It might appear obvious that sleep is good for us, but how much do you know about the health benefits of getting a good night’s rest each night? We all know that sleep deprivation makes us feel unpleasant and how good it feels to sleep in late in the mornings.
Scientists have gone through a substantial amount of work to understand the benefits that sleep offers. As a result we now have access to more information around the impact that sleep has on the immune system, metabolism, memory, concentration and many other areas in daily life.
Let’s examine some of these benefits more closely.
Reduce Stress & Blood Pressure
Getting enough quality sleep stimulates relaxation that could reduce blood pressure and maintain firmer control over it.
Because of the hectic lifestyles most of us lead, we tend not to allow ourselves the restful REM sleep that we need. This causes the body to produce elevated levels of stress hormones. Quality sleep can help ease the day’s stress a little more. Not to mention, when you feel tired that’s generally accompanied by feelings of tension – you become more impatient and this results in feeling more agitated throughout the day.
The cycle between stress and sleep can be a vicious one: you cannot solve one without solving the other. Ensure you get a great deal of sleep and take time to unwind.
Studies have shown that there is a link between sleeping too little and underlying heart conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation. Getting a good night’s sleep consistently can reduce stress and inflammation in the heart, which by extension reduces the chance for a stroke or a heart condition.
Regardless of age, weight, smoking or exercise habits, there is a direct link between heart health and good sleep. Statistically there are more cases of congestive heart failure in people that are suffering from the night-time breathing disorder, sleep apnoea, than those who aren’t.
Improve Mood & Avoid Depression
The link between sleep and mood is complicated because an interrupted sleep could cause emotional changes, clinical depression or even anxiety.
The profound ‘Case of The Mondays’ – feelings of grogginess, lack of energy, irritability and frustration that causes you to snap at everyone around you – has been linked to poor sleep in multiple case studies.
On the other hand, quality sleep achieves the opposite effect. Noticeable improvements in mood and general mental well-being could be noted. All the irritability, lack of enthusiasm, persistent sadness and frustrating outbursts might be cured by going to bed a little earlier.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
While sleep will not directly target your weight, it will help promote a healthy appetite and reduce the cravings you might get for high-calorie foods.
One of the largest risk factors for obesity is poor sleep. Numerous factors also influence the link between sleep and weight gain, but good quality sleep is definitely vital when actively trying to lose weight.
You tend to have less of an appetite when you have a healthy sleeping schedule. If you deprive yourself of sleep, the hormones that control your appetite go out of balance which causes you to crave high-calorie treats.
Improve Memory & Concentration
Everyone knows what it’s like to have a bad night’s sleep. We’re all familiar with the mental fatigue that inhabits us the next day. Without the needed sleep, it is difficult for the brain to absorb and retain new information, since the brain makes use of the time while we’re sleeping to store memories and filter through the events of the day.
You can improve your memory by getting the right amount of sleep. When you learn something new, only parts of it will become physical memory. When you sleep, the brain processes and ‘practices’ the new skill or information to make it better.
Resist Illnesses More Effectively
Your body produces extra amino-acids that can improve your body’s ability to fight off infection.
Studies have shown that even a small loss of sleep can have an effect on the body’s resistance to illness.
To help you fend off disease, your white blood cells identify pathogens in your body and attacks them. This process gets impeded when you do not get the REM sleep you require. Your immune system might become slower in identifying and eliminating harmful bacteria and viruses.
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