Sleep is something we all have to do, but for some of us, getting a good night’s rest is easier said than done. Sleep is our body’s way of performing daily maintenance. It is necessary for vital biological processes to take place. Most adults need 6 to 7 hours of sleep each night, but children and teenagers need 8 to 12 hours a night. Considering the average lifespan of 75 years, that means we spend roughly 26 years of our lives sleeping. That’s a lot of drooling, snoring and dreaming. Just because most of us know the importance of being well rested, that doesn’t mean that most of us actually put in the effort to ensure that we have a healthy sleeping pattern. When you change your sleep pattern, you will start to find out more about your body and what it needs.
1. Weight Control
When you don’t get sufficient rest, you are more likely to be overweight or obese. Shorter sleep times are one of the stronger risk factors when it comes to obesity. Not getting enough sleep affects your hormone levels. Upsetting that delicate balance can have some very noticable effects. Inadequate rest may lead to changes in your appetite. Specifically, leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that regulate appetite and are negatively affected by lack of sleep. Another factor linking weight trouble and sleep deprivation is a lack of motivation to exercise or be more active. A well regulated sleep pattern can help you to maintain or lose weight.
2. Improved Productivity and Brain Function
Waking up after a good night’s sleep is invigorating. Instead of feeling sluggish and cranky, you will find that you are more alert, clear headed and more active. As you go through your day you will find that you are more productive at work or in accomplishing your tasks for the day. Feeling productive and accomplished is a feeling you want to feel again and again. You will likely feel like you have more free time and decide to spend that time doing more of the things that you enjoy or maybe even start a workout regimen.
Deep sleep is necessary for your brain to make and index connections and links, like memories, sensory inputs and feelings. Allowing your brain to get this essential processing time in, improves your memory and brain function. And most surprisingly of all, a good night’s rest one night, increases the chances of you having another good night’s sleep. So, great sleep is the gift that keeps on giving.
3. Reduced Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Heart health and your circulatory system are very close friends of sleep. Losing sleep is not beneficial to your heart. In fact, getting enough rest can help to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. It works even better if you combine full and restful sleep with a healthy diet and exercise. Sleep is absolutely vital in the restoration of your blood vessels. This is the reason that many heart attacks and strokes occur during the early morning hours. A lack of sleep correlates to high blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are factors in heart disease and stroke sufferers. Regularly getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night can help improve the health of your circulatory system and improve cardiovascular outcomes.
4. May Help Prevent Certain Cancers
Would you believe that people who work night shifts and sleep through the majority of the daylight hours have a higher incidence of colon and breast cancer? Not getting enough sunshine coupled with too much exposure to artificial light can decrease melatonin levels. Melatonin is a key hormone in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and it also has some role in the suppression of tumors. You can give your melatonin a boost by keeping your sleeping quarters dark and not using any electronics right before bed.
5. Boost Your Immune System
Getting enough sleep is a must for building and maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. Impaired immune function leaves you open to viruses, bacteria and other undesirable outcomes that can have you out of sorts. If you already have a compromised immune system, taking the those extra steps to ensure you get enough sleep is very important. While you are asleep your body produces extra proteins that help you to fight off infections. So, give your immune system a little extra rest and you’ll be glad you did.
6. Reduce Inflammation in Your Body
An increase in stress hormones means an increase in inflammation in your body. High levels of inflammation are related to certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, muscle and joint pain, heart related conditions and more. Good sleep gives your body the opportunity to recover from stress, thereby helping to reduce inflammation. One of the major centers of inflammation in those who are sleep deprived is the digestive system. Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease have been linked to insufficient sleep.
7. Better Social and Emotional Interactions
Feeling well rested definitely puts us in a better mood. When you feel good, you tend to treat people well. You can better handle stressful situations and respond in a manner that is sensible for the situation. When you’re tired it’s more difficult to recognize social cues and process emotional information. Resting well is helpful in staying calm and reasonable. You’ll be more attentive and have a better disposition. Mental health is also affected by the amount of sleep that you get.
Forming a better sleeping pattern, will bring so many benefits into your life. You’ll be surprised to learn how many things sleeping can help us accomplish in our lives and what things negatively affect your sleep. If you’re unsure of whether or not your sleep needs some revision, do a little experiment. Try getting different amounts of sleep. As you go through each day, pay close attention to how you’re feeling, you mood, your appetite, your ability to concentrate, productivity and more. If you notice more negatives with less sleep hours, then you should increase the amount of time you sleep.