- 10 Surprising Health Benefits to Getting More Sleep
- The Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep
- 14 Health Benefits of Sleeping Early (Supercharge Your Life Tonight!)
- 1: Better sleep quality
- 2: Reduces the risk of diseases
- 3: A healthier heart
- 4: Improves memory
- 5: Controls weight
- 6: Feel happier
- 7: More energy
- 8: Strengthens the immune system
- 9: Reduces anxiety and depression
- 10: Feel more attractive
- 11: Sharper thinking skills
- 12: Prevents accidents
- 13: Increases productivity
- 14: Improves athletic performance
- 10 Amazing Health Benefits of Sleep
- How Much Sleep Do You Need?
- 1. Increases Life Span
- 2. Improves Memory
- 3. Improves Attention Span
- 4. Reduces Stress
- 5. Reduces Risk of Depression
- 6. Helps Better Weight Management
- 7. Helps In Muscle Building
- 8. Improves Heart Health
- 9. Reduces Inflammation
- 10. Slows Down Ageing
- Final Words
- 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep
- 7 Surprising Health Benefits to Getting More Sleep
10 Surprising Health Benefits to Getting More Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? That is a question you should ask yourself from time to time. With the fast-paced and busy life we live today, sleep is often pushed aside.
Many young people use a saying I'll sleep when I'm dead, but they fail to realize how much sleep is important.
The idea of today's article is to talk about health benefits to getting more sleep.
Health benefits to getting more sleep
Many people have troubles with sleep. They often go to a sleep clinic to deal with this issue. Sleep deprivation has severe consequences on our well-being, and we should always find enough time to rest. With that in mind, here are the 10 surprising health benefits to getting more sleep.
Sleep regulates your blood pressure, and it slows it down. Blood vessels and your heart have some time to rest, which is crucial for having a healthy heart. If you don't sleep enough, chances are that high blood pressure can lead to serious heart conditions. Even a short nap can have fantastic results.
Sleep issues affect our health, and can cause heart issues
Sleep deficiency causes high blood pressure, and it leads to increased stress levels in our body. The entire body weakens and all of the body's functions are alerted. Furthermore, stress hormones will make it more difficult to fall asleep, and you can easily enter the state of insomnia.
- Enough sleep makes you more alert
After a good night’s rest our body is energized and more alert. That is why sleep is so important because it refreshes our entire system. If you feel refreshed and full of energy after you get up, your entire day will be better. You'll have more energy to perform your daily tasks, and it will be easier to fall asleep.
- Sleep strengthens your immune system
personal experience, I can tell you that sleep directly affects your immune system.
For example, I was relocating to a new home last month. We had a hectic few weeks of planning and organization. I had so many things to do. If you moved before, you know how it goes: you start planning the relocation, pack your old belongings before storing them, hire a moving company, load all the boxes.
You are constantly thinking asking yourself if you’ve forgotten anything. Bottom line, in the period of five days I slept only a few hours. The result was a high fever, and pain in my body. It took me a while to recuperate, and I slept for more than 20 hours after the relocation.
That is how much our body needs to rest.
- Sleeping is good for memory
sleep research, sleeping plays an important part in how our brain functions. After a busy day, when we go to sleep, our body may be resting, but our brain is still busy. Every day our brain processes a lot of information. During deep sleep, every memory and information is being linked, and our ability to remember is strengthened as well.
The lack of sleep affects hormones that impact the appetite. Hormones that regulate appetite are called ghrelin and leptin. The research shows that these hormones are disrupted with the lack of sleep. It is highly suggested that we try to sleep for at least 8 hours a day. Anything less could affect our appetite, and affect our weight.
Sleeping affects our appetite, and the lack of sleep can cause weight issues
With that in mind, if you are on a diet and trying to lose some weight, always remember that having enough sleep helps this cause.
- Sleeping increases your productivity
Do you know that feeling when you wake up tired, and you have no will to do anything? If we lose sleep, our mood changes. There is not enough energy in our bodies, and that creates a chain reaction. Whatever chores you have to perform that day; it will feel a few times harder to do them than it usually is.
The lack of sleep affects our motivation and it slows us down. On the contrary, if you are well rested, you will feel more ready to work.
Are you happy, sad, angry? Can people easily disrupt your calm? If you feel everything is annoying you, and you have no patience for anything around you, that might be due to the lack of sleep. Our bodies are tired, and even though we may not notice it, there are severe consequences.
Our mood is directly affected by how much we sleep. After a good night’s rest, you will feel happy, and you'll have more energy and will to deal with issues.
Depression is a serious condition, and many people lose their lives because of it. While it is, in most cases, treated with medication, there are other ways that may help you fight with it. Having enough sleep is one way to do it.
Still, it is important to know that depression is not treatable by sleeping enough. It is crucial to understand that medical help is always needed in these cases.
Nevertheless, a rested body is ready to fight, and having enough sleep cannot do harm.
- Your body repairs itself while sleeping
The last of the 10 surprising health benefits to getting more sleep is that our body repairs itself while sleeping. Our body cells produce more protein while our body is resting.
It directly affects the ability of cells to produce building blocks for repairing themselves.
Whether we are affected by stress, ultraviolet rays, or any other harmful thing, this is an opportunity for our body to repair the damage while we sleep.
Completing a sleep study can enhance your quality of life from the conditions most ly taking away a full night’s rest. If you live in Alaska and are ready to take back your sleep, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic and receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep educator who can help you determine if a sleep study is right for you.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep
We need sleep to protect our physical and mental health. It helps our brains recharge, enhances our quality of life and supports growth and development.
Sleep is the way in which our brain prepares for the next day. According to research, a good night sleep improves learning, it helps heal and repair your heart and blood vessels, reduces your risk for obesity and helps maintain a healthy immune system.
Sleep deprivation is a common side effect of lack of sleep. It may result in increased blood pressure, impaired concentration, weight gain, depression, aging and forgetfulness.
The secrets to your best night sleep – reduce your caffeine intake, don’t eat too close to bedtime, cut out alcohol and avoid looking at artificial light before bed.
Continue reading for the surprising health benefits of sleep.
1. Sleep reduces stress– According to research, many people have reported that their stress increases when their quality and length of sleep decreases. 37 percent of adults have reported feeling tired and fatigued due to stress and adults that slept less than eight hours a night reported higher stress levels than those individuals who slept at least eight hours a night.
2. Sleep aids in weight loss– Getting a good night sleep is essential for weight loss. Your body burns more fat while you sleep, you will be more ly to exercise because you are waking up with more energy and you will be in the right mindset to make better food choices. *See: 10 Health Risks of Obesity
3. Sleep helps boost your immune system– Sleep is very important to a properly functioning immune system. People who never get sick follow a bedtime routine and set a specific time to go to sleep.
This helps them avoid sleep deprivation and the serious mental and physical health problems that follow.
Tip: Try to go to sleep at the same time every night to set your body’s internal clock and boost the quality of your sleep.
4. Sleep improves your memory– According to the National Sleep Foundation, a healthy sleep helps put us in the right state of mind to take in information throughout the day. It helps us process and retain information over the long term and strengthens connections between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another.
5. Sleep makes you less ly to suffer from depression– Depression affects at least 20 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea may contribute or cause depressive disorders. Also, inability to sleep that lasts over a long period of time may be a clue that someone is depressed.
6. Sleep helps your heart– Individuals who do not sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They explain, “researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.”
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14 Health Benefits of Sleeping Early (Supercharge Your Life Tonight!)
‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise’ were the words uttered by Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of the United States).
Science has shown there’s some truth in these words about the importance of hitting the pillow early, but this works best in conjunction with getting the recommended seven-eight hours (which many of us fail to do).
Sleep is a powerful force that dispenses a multitude of life-changing benefits – from making us more productive, to prolonging our lives.
Check out our top 14 benefits of sleeping early – all backed-up with solid scientific evidence:
1: Better sleep quality
Be wary of burning the midnight oil because there’s a clear link between sleeping early and improved sleep quality.
Matthew Walker, leading sleep expert (currently Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, as well as founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science), in his New York Times bestseller Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams explains the science behind this:
Sleep is made up of 90-minute cycles, during which the brain moves from deep non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep to rapid eye movement (REM).
The cycles remain fairly consistent but the split between non-REM and REM changes.
Non-REM dominates the cycle in the early part of the night and then REM takes over as we move closer to daybreak.
Why does this matter?
Non-REM sleep is much deeper and restorative than REM (although both provide different benefits).
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Reap all the advantages of a good night’s slumber by turning in early.
2: Reduces the risk of diseases
Hitting the sack early could be a preventative measure for life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
The World Health Organization has officially classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen as it interferes with our circadian rhythm (otherwise known as the body clock).
The Ivy League Harvard Medical School stated that good quality sleep reduces the risk of chronic life-threatening diseases.
This scientific analysis is supported by (the aforementioned) Walker, who states that sleeping less than the six or seven hours a night doubles the risk of cancer, with insufficient sleep being a key lifestyle factor determining whether of not someone will develop Alzeheimer’s disease.
3: A healthier heart
There’s another life-saving benefit of slumber: it keeps the heart healthy as it lowers blood pressure.
High blood pressure seems to be on the rise in the US. It’s been reported that 75 million American adults suffer from it – alarmingly, that amounts to one in every three!
As high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, sleep could improve the quality of your life or even save it.
This doesn’t seem too wild a claim as heart disease is the leading cause of death globally, and in the US someone gets a stroke every 40 seconds.
4: Improves memory
Sleep statistics show that 7 10 college students don’t get adequate sleep, however sleep has proven itself to be an excellent memory aid.
Both animal and human studies have uncovered that good quality sleep, for the right amount of time (seven-eight hours), has a positive impact on both learning and memory.
First, an alert mind helps to acquire and absorb information while awake. Sleep deprivation results in a struggle to focus and shorten attention span.
There’s a mounting body of research that sleep helps us to process and retain information long-term – it’s essential for learning new information. It protects newly acquired information and prevents us forgetting what we’ve learnt.
5: Controls weight
There’s a stack of evidence that sleep is the crucial ingredient when it comes to weight management – sleep stops pounds being piled on.
For decades scientists and doctors have explained that insufficient sleep affects the secretion of cortisol (a hormone that regulates appetite) and the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
This means if you’re sleep deprived, the higher the risk for weight gain or diseases type 2 diabetes.
A recent study (August, 2018) found that not getting enough sleep changes genes in a way that is detrimental to metabolism and promotes obesity.
Increased weight gain can be experienced by healthy humans if they slightly adjust the time they go to sleep on a weekly basis, or are short of sleep in as little as five consecutive nights.
Moreover, those who suffer sleep deprivation can often be too tired to carry out much physical activity and burn off fat – this will cause the waistlines to grow!
6: Feel happier
Getting a good night’s shut-eye could be the route to happiness.
Going to bed early means that you’re ly to rise early, and sunlight can be enjoyed for longer the following day (especially in the winter months). You can even invest in a sunlight simulator for dark mornings.
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin. This is a hormone that boosts mood and helps you feel calm.
Research carried out by the Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research earlier this year, discovered that people in the UK rated sleep as the key to happiness – this is was above a good sex life, health of our close relatives, strong connections in the community and job security.
Sleep quality is at the top of the list for ensuring people’s wellbeing.
With 1 in 4 Americans developing insomnia each year we should never underestimate the power of sleep; it has the potential to bring emotional stability and an improved mindset.
7: More energy
There’s no denying that after a good night’s sleep we awake feeling more energized and ready to go.
On the other hand, insufficient sleep results in a sluggish and exhausted feeling.
Why does this happen?
Findings show that restorative functions in the body muscle growth, tissue repair and growth hormones are released during sleep.
Sleep provides the opportunity for the body to restore what we lost while awake – a huge benefit for energy levels – and yet another reason to get to bed at a decent hour.
8: Strengthens the immune system
Good quality sleep, at a decent hour, is a must if you want to keep well.
Recent research from 2017 shows the link between sleep and the immune system.
Those experiencing shorter sleep duration and insomniacs are more ly to have a depressed immune system, in comparison to someone who has the recommended seven-eight hours worth of sleep.
The time you head to bed is more important than you may realize!
Renowned neurologist Dr David Perlmutter has stated (in The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan) that after 10pm the body metabolizes a lot of waste products, and during 11pm-2am, the immune system recharges itself.
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To stay strong and healthy, choose a sleep time that works around these hours.
9: Reduces anxiety and depression
Sleep can be a game-changer when it comes to your mental health, even little changes such as sleeping naked can have real benefits.
There’s a huge amount of scientific and medical evidence that proves that a lack of shut-eye has a significant negative impact on moods.
It can result in greater stress levels, feelings of sadness, anger and mental exhaustion.
The University of Pennyslyvania explored this very topic through a trial. Subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for one week, reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted.
Another major study of 10,000 people suffering from sleep disorders revealed that people with insomnia were five times more ly to develop depression and twenty times more ly to develop a panic disorder.
10: Feel more attractive
Sleep is excellent for the skin and it shouldn’t be an overlooked as a fundamental part of the beauty regime.
Hitting the pillow earlier leaves people feeling more attractive, younger and healthier.
Ground-breaking research found that sleep quality heavily impacts on skin function, with poor sleep accelerating the aging process and weakening the skin’s ability to repair itself at night.
11: Sharper thinking skills
A benefit for the mind is much sharper thinking skills, as opposed to a foggy, slow mind.
A report by international world experts explained that good quality sleep is vital for brain health and cognitive function.
When people don’t get enough good quality sleep, their attention and concentration abilities decrease.
Reaction times are much longer, people become inattentive and don’t respond well to the environment around them.
12: Prevents accidents
Another life-saving benefit is that sleep is a powerful force that may prevent accidents.
Sleepy brains don’t make the best decisions. Low levels of alertness and poor reaction times is common in the sleep deprived.
It’s unsurprising that that the American Automobile Association (AAA) study has estimated that one every six deadly traffic accidents, and one eight crashes, requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving
Another credible study, frequently referenced, has revealed that a lack of sleep has similar effects to alcohol intoxication on certain aspects of the brain.
13: Increases productivity
Memory levels, the ability to mentally focus and a happier state, will lead to high levels of productivity following a good night’s sleep.
With society geared around an early start, it makes sense to get to bed at an early hour, rise early and seize the day.
Research suggests that morning people hold all the important cards. They’re more ly to get better grades in school, get into better colleges and consequently this will lead fo better job opportunities. Taking a nap at work is even believed to improve your levels of productivity!
Win at life by hitting the pillow early.
14: Improves athletic performance
Sleep can help increase an athlete’s game. It’s a useful aid for anyone – not just those running clocking up high mileage on long marathon runs.
Physical activity takes its toils on the body, particularly muscles and tissues; the body needs time to repair itself and this happens during sleep.
Sleep boosts performance, from speed (alert minds experience faster reaction times) to better co-ordination (as sleep is crucial for cementing learnings from during the day).
While oversleeping can have detrimental effects on your health and lead to an early death, exceeding the recommended sleep time can be a positive for sportsmen/women.
A study focused on basketball players showed the positive force longer sleep (ten hours) can have on athletic ability, speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing.
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Sleep
You know the obvious fact sleep helps us restore our energies. But do you know about these other terrific, amazing health benefits of sleep?
In short, sleep increases our lifespan and slows down ageing. It improves memory and attention. Reduces stress and depression risk. Helps muscle growth and weight management. Cuts down inflammation. Raises our testosterone levels and heart health.
Dr Raymonde Jean, associate professor of critical care and sleep medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, says:
If you sleep better, you can certainly live better.
To find out more, take a quick dive into the next few highly interesting paragraphs scientific facts.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
A night of restful sleep is vital to our physical and emotional health. A habit of regular and proper sleep, along with daily exercise and good diet, keeps the mind and body in excellent shape.
But how much sleep do you need everyday?
Plain and straight: Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Exception: Children need more sleep.
It’s no more debatable whether we can cut out on our daily 8 hours of sleep and still remain healthy, or whether we can sleep less during the week and then play catch-up in the weekends with those lost hours — all research points in the opposite direction.
In fact, Daniel Gartenberg, a sleep scientist and assistant adjunct professor at Penn State, says sleep can be more important to your health and productivity than diet and exercise. In an interview with Quartz, he goes further to reason we actually need more than eight hours of sleep:
In order to get a healthy eight hours of sleep, which is the amount that many people need, you need to be in bed for 8.5 hours. The standard in the literature is that healthy sleepers spend more than 90% of the time in bed asleep, so if you’re in bed for eight hours, a healthy sleeper might actually sleep for only about 7.2 hours.
Research says the best way you can draw maximum benefit from sleep is to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.
Research says the best way you can draw maximum benefit from sleep is to go to bed and get up at the same time — everyday. Click To Tweet
If you are having problems going to sleep, find out the world’s best science-backed sleep hacks.
How much should you nap each day for perfect health?
Now take a look at these eleven excellent reasons why it makes sense for all of us to have a regular sleeping habit.
1. Increases Life Span
Sleep is essential for many regenerative and restorative functions of the body and mind. Those who are able to catch at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night have a much better chance of living longer.
This is because sleep helps in promoting cellular turnover and autophagy which scientists say could increase our longevity. It is also perhaps because sleep is helpful in proper functioning of our immune system. By sleeping well, we can fight infections and diseases well.
A 2007 research that followed over 21,000 twins for more than 22 years, concluded there is an association between sleep behavior (most notably in sleep length) and mortality, even though the exact mechanisms were unclear.
2. Improves Memory
Memory gets stabilized and strengthened by nightly sleep, and even during daytime naps, the scientists tell us.
Regular sleeping helps the brain to put together the events that have happened during the day and ensure it gets stored as a long term memory. This process is referred to as memory consolidation. It helps children in particular to retain what they have learnt at school.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can weaken our working memory. Research by Casement found when people were asked to recognize digits displayed on a screen by typing them on a keypad, the working memory speed of those who were allowed only fours of sleep were 58% slower than those who had their full eight hours of sleep.
3. Improves Attention Span
Those who go to school without proper sleep experience a big drop in their attention and concentration. According to a research published in the journal Experimental Brain Research, lack of sleep and a relative increase in the time spent awake burdens the brain’s attention system.
Lack of sleep could also impact short term memory, and especially children who get less than 8 hours of daily sleep perform poorly in their academics due to this.
4. Reduces Stress
Stress and sleep have a two-way relationship.
Stress can make sleeping difficult, and less sleep could increase the stress levels. All the while, we find it easy to fall asleep when our stress is under control. And a night of restful sleep can bring down the effects of stress.
There is no doubt chronic stress is a killer and a silent one at that. For keeping the disastrous effects of stress at bay, sleep is an indispensable tool. A regular, proper sleep helps our stress levels stay under check at all times.
In stress, not only is sleep is difficult to come by, but even when sleep comes, stress can make our sleep fractured and disturbed. Stress also makes it difficult to go back to sleep once we wake up in between our sleep cycles. The reduction of our stress levels is perhaps one of the best health benefits of sleep.
Since we’re on stress, here’s one useful article: 10 Easy And Effective Strategies To Beat Stress.
5. Reduces Risk of Depression
First of all, depression is not a condition of blues a person can simply will away. Rather, it is a serious disorder with persistent feelings of sadness, apathy, hopelessness, tearfulness, and thoughts of suicide, that needs medical treatment.
Depression has a complex relationship with sleep. Depression can make one oversleep, or it can make a person sleep too little. On the other hand, sleep problems can be a forerunner to depression. There is evidence insomniacs are at a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well.
While genetics could predict higher levels of depression, almost each one of us could be prone to depression. Though you need proper treatment for it, scientists have reasons to believe regular sleep could help in bringing down the risk of depression quite a bit.
6. Helps Better Weight Management
How many know about this health benefit of sleep? Improving your sleep can be a vital tool to maintain your weight. Studies show subjects who sleep less than six hours a night are more ly to have a higher than average body mass index (BMI). In comparison, those who sleep eight hours each night have the lowest BMI.
Habitual lack of a full eight hours’ sleep could lead to unwanted weight gain. This is because of the increased secretion of cortisol (our body’s “stress hormone”) which could lead to fluid retention and inhibit fat burning.
Poor sleep may also lead to food cravings after full meals due to the reason it increases ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates hunger) secretion. It also lowers the amount of leptin (a hormone that tells us we’re full after a meal) secretion.
Research has also shown adults who sleep less than 5 hours a night have greatly increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
7. Helps In Muscle Building
While those gym sessions could help in muscle building, the actual growth of muscle happens when the body is at rest — while sleeping. Your weight training at the gym seems to break down your muscle fibers. Now, the actual rebuilding and repair of those sore muscles happen when you sleep.
The mechanism behind this phenomenon is this: During sleep, our body’s natural growth hormone is released which stimulates the muscle recovery and regeneration.
8. Improves Heart Health
There are research studies that show people who have the habit of sleeping for 8 hours daily each night are less ly to suffer from strokes or heart attacks. Sleep helps to keep blood pressure within the normal range, and the heart less stressed while pumping blood.
A statement from the American Heart Association warns us a pattern of irregular or insufficient sleep is linked to a bunch of risks to our heart health, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. The risk of dying from CHD (coronary heart disease) is much raised in those who get less than seven hours or more than nine hours of sleep.
9. Reduces Inflammation
This is one of the best health benefits of sleep. Scientists have discovered inflammation is at the core of our sleep regulation. They have found our body’s inflammation is often increased when we have sleep disorders as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.
Mark R. Zielinski and his team found pro-inflammatory molecules are enhanced in the brain with acute sleep loss.
There is no doubt sleep is considered to be one of the anti-inflammatory solutions and hence regular sleep could thwart the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis and premature ageing. It helps to reduce the production of c-reactive protein (CRP) which helps inflammation. You can feel this health benefit of sleep within a week of getting 8 hours of daily sleep.
10. Slows Down Ageing
Regular and proper sleep helps to reduce the signs of ageing — especially on our skin.
Research by Diego Mazzotti and team suggest that “disrupted sleep-wake cycle and chronic sleep restriction, highly prevalent conditions in the modern society, are strongly associated to age-related diseases.” They conclude people who live till very old age (80 or more years) have strictly regular sleep patterns.
Of course, we must keep in mind that with age, our sleep quality declines. For more, read this engrossing article published in 2017 in the journal Neuron: Sleep and Human Aging.
Positive Ageing – Oliver Sacks
Sleep also improves our testosterone levels. Testosterone is the key male hormone controlling fertility, bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. Lower levels of testosterone is associated with low energy, reduced libido, poor concentration, and fatigue.
Eight hours of regular sleep could help increase the production of testosterone. A study found men who slept less than 5 hours a night for one week have significantly lower levels of testosterone, as compared to those having full sleep.
Here is a bestseller book by Matthew Walker exploring the reasons we sleep:
Why We Sleep
If you, or someone you know, suffers from poor sleep, here’s a thoroughly researched post on best scientific sleep hacks here: 6 Scientific Sleep Hacks.
• • •
Authors Bio: Kate Riley writes on health topics giving out amazing tips on how to live a healthier life. Sandip Roy is Founder of Happiness India Project.
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11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.
Insufficient sleep is linked to a host of health problems, from depression to cardiovascular disease. Make sure you're falling asleep quickly so you can get a good night's rest. Watch this video for six simple tricks to avoid insomnia.
Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).
“If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.
In other words if you’re trying to learn something new—whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing—you’ll perform better after sleeping.
RELATED: 13 Ways Being a Night Owl Could Hurt Your Health
Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan—although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.)In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.
Sleep also affects quality of life.
“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” says Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.
RELATED: The Best Eye Masks for a Better Night's Sleep
- Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.
- A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
- People who have sleep apnea or insomnia can have an improvement in blood pressure and inflammation with treatment of the sleep disorders, Dr. Rapoport says.
RELATED: 6 Easy Steps to Becoming a Morning Person
Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper.
In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.
Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.
RELATED: Why Getting More Than 9 Hours of Sleep Every Night Could Be a Bad Thing
If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers.
RELATED: 5 Signs You May Have Restless Legs Syndrome
Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more ly to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep.
This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote.In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.
“If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep,” Dr.
Rapoport says, “but it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning.”
RELATED: 11 Genius Products That Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep in 2019
A lack of sleep can result in ADHD- symptoms in kids, Dr. Rapoport says.”Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do,” he adds. “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.
A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more ly to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.
“We diagnose and measure sleep by measuring electrical changes in the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “So not surprisingly how we sleep affects the brain.”
RELATED: 15 Alarm Clocks for Heavy Sleepers
If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.
(They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.
“Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says.
“When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.”
RELATED: The Best Sleep Supplements Worth Trying
When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same—and both can affect cardiovascular health.
“Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure,” Dr. Jean says. “It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.”
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance—even more than alcohol!”Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous,” Dr. Rapoport says. “Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making.”
Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
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Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability.”A lack of sleep can contribute to depression,” Dr. Jean says. “A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep.
“If you think the long hours put in during the week are the cause of your anxiety or impatience, Dr. Rapoport warns that sleep cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend.
“If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week,” he says.
“It’s all about finding a balance.
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7 Surprising Health Benefits to Getting More Sleep
- Benefits of Sleep
- How Much Sleep Is Enough?
A lack of sleep at night can make you cranky the next day. And over time, skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies show getting quality sleep on a regular basis can help improve all sorts of issues, from your blood sugar to your workouts.
Here's why you should give your body the ZZZs it needs.
When you're running low on sleep, you'll probably have trouble holding onto and recalling details. That's because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it's tough to focus and take in new information. Your brain also doesn't have enough time to properly store memories so you can pull them up later.
Sleep lets your brain catch up so you're ready for what's next.
Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is process your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.
Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. One large study showed that when you have insomnia, you're five times more ly to develop depression, and your odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.
Refreshing slumber helps you hit the reset button on a bad day, improve your outlook on life, and be better prepared to meet challenges.
While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke.
Short-term down time can have long-term payoffs.
If your sport requires quick bursts of energy, wrestling or weightlifting, sleep loss may not affect you as much as with endurance sports running, swimming, and biking. But you're not doing yourself any favors.
Besides robbing you of energy and time for muscle repair, lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what gets you to the finish line. You'll face a harder mental and physical challenge — and see slower reaction times.
Proper rest sets you up for your best performance.
During the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in your blood drops. Not enough time in this deepest stage means you don't get that break to allow a reset — leaving the volume turned up. Your body will have a harder time responding to your cells' needs and blood sugar levels.
Allow yourself to reach and remain in this deep sleep, and you're less ly to get type 2 diabetes.
To help you ward off illnesses, your immune system identifies harmful bacteria and viruses in your body and destroys them. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work. They may not attack as quickly, and you could get sick more often.
Good nightly rest now can help you avoid that tired, worn-out feeling, as well as spending days in bed as your body tries to recover.
When you're well-rested, you're less hungry. Being sleep-deprived messes with the hormones in your brain — leptin and ghrelin — that control appetite.
With those balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you're tired, you're less ly to want to get up and move your body. Together, it's a recipe for putting on pounds.
The time you spend in bed goes hand-in-hand with the time you spend at the table and at the gym to help you manage your weight.
Sleep needs vary, but on average, regularly sleeping more than 9 hours a night may do more harm than good. Research found that people who slept longer had more calcium buildup in their heart arteries and less flexible leg arteries, too.
Your best bet is to shoot for 7-8 hours of slumber each night for peak health benefits.
Healthy Sleep: “Sleep, Learning, and Memory,” “Sleep and Mood.”
Psychological Bulletin: “Overnight therapy? The role of sleep in emotional brain processing.”
Sleep Medicine Reviews: “Sleep and Emotion Regulation: An Organizing, Integrative Review.”
CDC: “How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?
Chest: “Sleep and Hypertension.”
Cleveland Clinic: “How Even a Little Sleep Loss Hinders Your Athletic Performance.”
National Sleep Foundation: “Sleep Longer To Lower Blood Glucose Levels.”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency.”
National Institutes of Health: “Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain.”
Mayo Clinic: “Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain?”
Harvard Health Publishing: “A good night's sleep: Advice to take to heart.”
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