The way you sleep has a huge impact on your health, far beyond simply boosting energy or getting rid of those bags under your eyes. Let’s take a look at some reasons why a good night sleep is important.
The difference between getting enough sleep and getting too little is the difference between leading a healthy lifestyle and not, much in the same way that diet and exercise play a crucial role in your overall wellbeing.
While most know the importance of sleep, many of us do not get enough of it. On average, healthy adults need around 8 hours a night. But studies have shown a large portion of us don’t meet this requirement.
Sleep deprivation can not only have an impact on our energy levels; there are myriad reasons why you should be getting your 8 hours. Here are 8 reasons why a good night sleep is important for your health.
Sleep Helps Improve Memory
Studies show that while we sleep, our brains are hard at work processing and consolidating information from the day behind us and preparing for the one ahead. A lack of sleep may mean vital information or memories are not stored correctly, and are lost.
The neural pathways to our memory centre are directly impacted by a lack of sleep too, resulting in poor memory storage. Overall, studies have shown that those who get 8 hours of sleep a night have better memory function than those who have less than 6.
Lack of Sleep Is Closely Linked With Weight Gain
Lack of sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. The reasons behind this are many, ranging from lack of motivation and energy for exercise, to disrupting hormones and appetite, to contributing to a slow metabolism and poor diet choices.
Conversely, studies show that sufficient sleep has a very positive impact on our weight. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, and leptin, which makes you feel full. Studies also show that normal sleepers burn calories more efficiently while they sleep and when they are awake.
Good Sleep Can Improve Productivity and Concentration
Sleep is vital for myriad aspects of brain function, from cognition and concentration to productivity and performance. Studies show that people lacking in sleep are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they’re well-rested, and that sleep deprivation can have a similar effect on productivity and concentration as alcohol intoxication. It is also shown to negatively affect hand-eye coordination, which can impact a whole range of day-to-day activities.
Sleep Impacts Your Mental Wellbeing
Lack of sleep is closely linked with a range of mental health issues, and poor emotional wellbeing. Studies suggest that the connection between sleep disorders and mental health issues is so deep that they may have common biological roots. Everything from depression to anxiety to stress is associated with poor sleep, while a good night sleep is believed to help foster both mental and emotional resilience.
Sleep Can Help Improve Your Sex Life
Studies have shown that many couples cite lack of sleep being behind their dwindling sex life. Yes, the key reason is that couples may simply feel “too tired”, but there’s more to it that that.
There is evidence that lack of sleep can be associated with lower testosterone levels in men, which can affect sex drive. Another study has shown that women who are severely sleep deprived experience lower arousal during sex than those who get enough shut-eye. Sleep may also affect hormone levels, which may cause changes in desire and arousal, another study suggests.
Good Sleep Can Bolster Athletic Performance
Sufficient sleep boosts energy levels, metabolic function, hand-eye coordination, concentration and productivity, and mental wellbeing. It also allows time for your body to rest and repair itself, to build muscle and detoxify. All of these are crucial components for optimal athletic performance.
Sleep Improves Immune System Function
Studies have shown that even a small loss of sleep can lead to disturbance of the immune system, which is why those who don’t get enough sleep tend to be more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold. One particular study found that those who were getting 7 hours sleep were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who were getting 8.
Sleep Deprivation Is a Risk Factor in Many Chronic Diseases
Sleep deprivation has been linked to a number of chronic diseases, ranging from heart disease and stroke, to diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. Poor sleeping patterns affect the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, which can cause an elevation in glucose levels, as well as blood pressure. Lack of sleep has also been strongly linked with inflammation of the digestive tract in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases.