Many people think that the best way to live a healthy life is by eating well and exercising regularly. But, while both efforts can reap great health benefits, you might be missing another important factor: healthy sleep.
Eating well and working out on a regular basis sure sound great if you want to stay healthy. But, you may weaken these efforts if you don’t get enough sleep.
If you want to learn why sleep is important for your health, this article is for you! We will discuss why it is essential to get a sound sleep -- and how much really is enough.
It helps to prevent the risk of diabetes and heart disease
Everyone experiences some sleep trouble from time to time. But if you are extremely lacking sleep, you’re exposed to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
So, take note:
People who commonly suffer from an extreme lack of sleep are those with sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder, it’s best to consult with your physician.
They can help you address your problem in getting a restful night, so you can avoid acquiring illnesses related to sleep deprivation.
It makes you feel better
Many people would want to jump into their beds and doze off after a tiring day. And we all probably know how it feels to wake up after getting a restful time. We instantly feel refreshed and more alert.
Our bodies experience fewer pains, our minds are able to think clearer, and we feel more able to take on the day!
It promotes weight loss
If you want to shed some pounds, getting a healthy sleep should be a part of your fitness routine! Having a restful night helps in weight loss because it prevents late-night cravings.
Obviously, the longer you’re up, the more likely you crave for calories that aren’t actually necessary!
Keep this in mind:
Late-night snacking can contribute to weight gain. In fact, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found out that it can make you gain up to two pounds in just one week!
Apparently, having an adequate amount of sleep also helps your body torch calories even without the need for a workout!
Another study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered a correlation between sleep deprivation and obesity.
The study found that the resting energy expenditure of normal sleepers was higher by 5% compared to sleep-deprived individuals. They were also able to burn 20% more calories after a meal than their exhausted counterparts.
Sleep also helps you to avoid unhealthy foods, and instead choose more nutritious ones. Exhausted individuals were found to be more likely to shop for foods that contain high calories.
A study published in the journal Obesity found that sleep-deprived men shopped for almost 1,300 calories in food more compared with their well-rested counterparts.
And, hunger didn’t even play a part in their food choice since all participants consumed a standardized breakfast before the experiment. Mental note: Never go to the grocery store when you’re feeling exhausted!
It also improves your immune system
Your immune system’s response to virus exposure is apparently affected by sleep, too! Studies reveal that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to acquire illnesses.
Sleep deprivation can also have an effect on your recovery after you’ve been sick. The more deprived you are of restful nights, the longer your recovery will take.
While we’re sleeping, our immune system discharges proteins known as cytokines. There’s a need for certain cytokines to increase when you’re experiencing inflammation, stress or an infection.
Sleep deprivation may dwindle your cytokine production. Also, cells and antibodies that are fighting infection are reduced every time you lack adequate sleep.
Long-term sleep deficiency likewise increases your chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses!
It boosts your cognitive function
Planning to impress a client or nail that presentation? Get yourself a good night’s rest and you’re on your way to achieving that! Researchers found a strong connection between sleep and cognitive function.
It was discovered that sleep deprivation contributes to the reduction of blood flow, which results in the decline of your attention to detail, decision-making skills, emotional intelligence, and cognitive speed!
So, if you really want to ace an exam, an interview or a presentation, make sure to doze off well! It'll surely make a huge difference.
It enhances your productivity
Sleep helps you become more productive too as it allows you to recover from distractions quicker. When you lack sleep, you will find it more difficult to gain your focus back after you’ve been distracted.
But when you're well-rested, this isn't a problem. People who regularly enjoy restful nights can refocus easily since they think clearer, too.
Getting a healthy sleep also helps in preventing burnout! Many sleep-deprived individuals suffer from on-the-job exhaustion.
In fact, sleep deprivation causes American companies to lose $63.2 billion in productivity every year!
Several studies suggest that a good night's rest can prevent mental collapse. Getting adequate hours of sleep allows you to perform your tasks efficiently, too.
Here's another thing:
You are also more likely to make better decisions when you’re able to sleep soundly. A restful night increases your ability to make instant, accurate decisions by four percent.
While this may not appear much, it’s still helpful when you need to come up with split-second judgments.
Beat forgetfulness, too!
Healthy sleep also improves your memory. Being well-rested allows you to retain information that you’ve picked up throughout the day.
Sleep-deprived people tend to have a poorer working memory compared with people who get enough rest.
And wait -- there's more:
You are also less likely to commit mistakes when you gain enough rest. Did you know that people who are sleep-deprived, even at a moderate amount, respond slower than intoxicated people?
Apparently, you’ll have a lower accuracy rate and your response time will be slower by 50 percent compared with people who are intoxicated!
It helps you to age well
You’ve probably experienced looking at yourself in front of the mirror after being sleep-deprived. You may have noticed that your skin looks rougher than normal, and there’s no doubt about that!
“Beauty sleep” is apparently not a myth at all.
When you sleep, certain hormones are being released by your body, which is essential for elastin and collagen restoration. These proteins are important building blocks of healthy, youthful skin.
Other studies have revealed a link between insomnia and the brain’s accelerated aging. Simply put, extreme sleep deprivation not only affects your brain’s function adversely, but it also accelerates its aging process.
Unfortunately, most of us treat sleep as a luxury than a necessity. So, if you want to remain young-looking, make that healthy change today and sleep more!
It boosts your mood
One of the most important things sleep can do for you is to improve your mood. People suffering from chronic insomnia often experience stress, anxiety, and high levels of depression.
And even if you do not have any sleep disorder, sleep deprivation, even for just a night, can still adversely affect your mood! Lack of sleep can also impair your ability to handle stressful situations.
This only goes to show why it’s more important to sleep than cram late at night before an important exam or event!
It also helps your libido
If you notice your libido waning recently, consider the amount of sleep you’re getting. Sleep deprivation also decreases testosterone, which can lead to a decreased interest in any sexual activity.
Surprisingly, your libido drops by 14 percent per hour of lost sleep! So, if you’ve grown a little less interested in sex than usual, adding an hour more to your sleeping habit might help.
How Much Sleep Do You Need
Now that you know the health benefits of sleep, it’s time to know how much is enough. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) released its latest recommendations for the proper span of sleep based on age group.
You can use NSF’s new recommendation for sleep ranges to know how much sleep you should be getting.
Newborns aged 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours per day
Infants aged 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours per day
Toddlers aged 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers aged 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
School-age children aged 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
Teenagers aged 14 to 17: 8 to 10 hours
Younger adults aged 18 to 25: 7 to 9 hours
Adults aged 26 to 64: 7 to 9 hours
Older adults aged 65 and above: 7 to 8 hours
Proper nutrition and exercise prove to be helpful in keeping a healthy body. But, to achieve optimum health, you must not take sleep for granted as it also plays a vital role reviving and refreshing your mind and body.
And while there’s a lot more to learn about the importance of sleep, the reasons mentioned above already clearly indicates why sleep is important.
If you want to reap the health benefits of sleep, you can help yourself by doing simple, handy tricks such as keeping away from your gadgets, avoiding caffeinated drinks or doing the 4-7-8 breathing technique!
Whatever tricks you choose, just remember to take adequate rest. You deserve it after all.