When it comes to sleep, too little or too much can shorten your lifespan. Just the right amount, though, will promote good health and longevity.
Sleeping allows your body to reset and repair from the day, so that you can feel energized and prepared for the following day. Poor sleeping habits can interfere with your quality of life and increase your risk for serious diseases.
Sleep makes you feel better, gets rid of the dark circles under your eyes, and boosts your mood. Getting the right amount of sleep goes even further, though, as it helps your heart, mind, weight, and so much more. (1)
Why You Need Those Z’s
We have all had those late nights, whether it was caring for a crying kid, preparing for a presentation, or just binge-watching TV. You wake feeling fatigued, and this tends to last for most of the day.
If you repeatedly deprive yourself of sleep, you are not going to reach optimal functioning during the day, and that tired feeling will be multiplied. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7 and 8 hours a night. A habit of more or less than that amount can damage your health and well-being. (2)
Inflammation is a major contributor to serious health problems such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and stroke. When you get fewer than six hours of sleep a night, levels of inflammatory proteins in your bloodstream increase.
Specifically C-reactive protein levels are elevated, which is a prominent risk factor for heart attack.
Supports a healthy weight
When you make plans to lose weight, you need to make dietary changes, exercise changes, and sleep changes. The more rested you are, the better fat-burning ability your body has.
Because sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same section of the brain, a sleepy person will be a hungry person. Insufficient sleep is now labelled as a major contributor to obesity because the hormones responsible for appetite become disrupted when you are sleep deficient. (3)
With regular and restful sleep, your body is better prepared to support a healthy body weight and lifestyle.
Improved Heart Health
Chronic sleep deprivation causes elevated blood pressure, which can contribute to serious cardiovascular problems. This is especially true in individuals suffering from sleep apnea, as they experience disrupted sleep on a nightly basis.
If you already battle with hypertension, a simple solution is to set a regular sleep schedule. Individuals with sleeping disorders are advised to seek treatment options right away, before serious health problems can develop.
While you sleep, your brain is able to protect memories from disruption that can occur during moments of wakefulness.
Additionally, the memories you compile while awake become consolidated according to their importance and your expectations to remember them. (4) The things you need to remember are registered as important and are securely stored in your brain, ready for easy recall.
The less sleep and rest that your brain has, the more interference you experience and memories can become clouded and even lost.
Improved cognitive function
Just as sleep helps your memory, it can help improve other brain functions. Sleeping the recommended amount helps to improve your attention span as well as ability to learn. This is especially important for children.
If you or anyone in your family has a sleeping disorder, you need to see a doctor right away for treatment. Impaired sleep has been linked to poor academic performance as well as low productivity at work.
Additionally, increased alertness helps you to avoid accidents and mistakes because your decision-making abilities are not impaired.
You should already be aware of the link between immunity and sleep because, when you are sick, the first place you go is straight to bed. Since energy is targeted in one place, additional rest helps your body to fight bacteria and viruses more effectively.
By resting, your body can provide more energy to your immune system, thus making it stronger. The reverse is also true: When you regularly go without proper sleep, your immune system will become rundown and less efficient. (5)
You feel better after a good night’s sleep, but the impact of sleep on your mood goes much deeper. Chronic insufficient sleep can cause long-term mood disorders.
Sleep helps to keep stress hormones under control, which protects you from anxiety and irritability. People with insufficient sleep have also reported lower levels of optimism and a lack of desire to be sociable.
Improper sleep patterns are, therefore, thought to contribute to the development of depression. (6)
There is a vicious cycle between depression and sleep that is easy to get caught up in. Depression makes you feel like staying in bed all day but the more you sleep, the more lethargic you feel.
Identifying this connection can specifically combating it may only require setting multiple alarms, but sticking to a healthy sleep routine will help over time. If not, it’s best to seek medical advice.
A good night’s sleep improves mind, body, and soul. Now that you understand the benefits sleep has for you, don’t deny yourself any longer. Sleep is one of the most important things in your life and without it your quality of life becomes impaired.
Make time to sleep just as you make time to exercise or spend time with family. In fact, investing in a better mattress or even just a simple sleep mask, may lead to huge improvement in your overall well-being.
- Wilhelm, I. et al. 2011. Sleep selectively enhances memory expected to be of future relevance. J. Neuroscience. 31 (5): 1563-1569