When we’re busy or stressed, sleep is low on our priority list. But what would happen if you got an extra hour of sleep each night? Quite a lot, actually! It turns out that sleep plays a bigger part in our health and well-being than previously thought. A good night’s sleep can benefit your health, weight, memory and ability to focus.
Do you need any more reasons to power down your electronic devices earlier and take some time to unwind before bed? Here are 13 ways sleep affects your health:
Sleep curbs inflammation. Inflammation is the root of many diseases as well as premature aging. People who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood.
Sleep improves athletic performance. Athletes who increased the numbers of hours they slept improved their performance, had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
Sleep improves memory. The REM waves we experience at the beginning of a sleep cycle can boost memory. If you’re trying to learn a new skill or simply remember your “To-do” list, you will perform better after a solid night’s sleep.
Sleep improves grades. Children with disordered sleeping had problems paying attention and learning in school. Sleep deprived college students have lower grades than their peers who get regular sleep.
Sleep aids weight loss. Part of this is behavioral – when tired, you’re more likely to skip the gym and less likely to cook a healthy meal. Plus, if you don’t get enough sleep, the hormones controlling appetite are disrupted. As a result, people who are tired are just plain hungrier.
Sleep lessens pain. If you have chronic pain, or acute pain from a recent injury, getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Of course no one should live with acute or chronic pain – please come in to see us!
Sleep helps keep you safer. Sleep deprivation has been linked with some of the world’s worst disasters, such as the space shuttle Challenger’s explosion, Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It’s estimated that 1 out of 5 car crashes are due to drowsy driving, which is even higher than the rate of alcohol related crashes!
Sleep improves your mood. You’re crankier when you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep and emotional health are interconnected, so you may feel more emotional when you’re sleep deprived.
Sleep reduces stress. Sleep helps to reduce stress levels, improving blood pressure and cardiac health. Sleep also has a positive effect on cholesterol levels, further improving heart health.
Sleep eases anxiety. Lack of sleep has been shown to exacerbate depression and anxiety.
Sleep clears brain fog. When you don’t sleep well your cognition is impaired, as are your attention and decision making capabilities. Well-rested people are much better at solving logic and math problems than those who are sleep-deprived.
Sleep boosts immunity. People who got seven hours of sleep a night or less were almost three times as likely to get sick as the people who slept at least eight hours a night.
Sleeps lets the body repairs itself. During sleep, the body works hard to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposure.
If you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, take a power nap. Napping during the day is an effective, refreshing alternative to coffee or tea that won’t cause jitters or a crash. Naps are good for your overall health and can make you more productive.
No matter how hectic life becomes, it’s imperative to make sleep a top priority – your health and well-being depend on it! Aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.