The importance of sleep is greater than many of us realize. Getting more of it can improve everything from your mental and physical health to your overall quality of life.
If you’ve just experienced a restless night and have a long, exhausting day ahead of you, you’re familiar with some of what makes sleep so important. But the time we spend with our eyes shut at night gives us much more than the ability to cope with the next day. A good night’s sleep carries countless benefits that touch on nearly every aspect of our lives. In other words, if you have difficulty sleeping, you’re missing out on more than you might think.
Essential Physical Benefits of Sleep
Aside from keeping you from wanting to take a nap after lunch, getting the right amount sleep has been proven to bring many health benefits. Some of them are fairly predictable, but others might be somewhat unexpected.
- Getting enough sleep can help keep inflammation under control: Inflammation, a problem linked to premature aging, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and arthritis, can increase if you don’t get enough rest at night. Research has proven that those who get six or fewer hours per night have higher inflammatory protein levels compared to people who sleep more. A protein connected to a heightened risk of heart attacks is present in larger quantities in those who sleep less.
- More sleep helps you maintain a healthier weight: The same parts of your brain control your body’s metabolism and sleep, meaning the two have more in common than many would think. The hormones that have an impact on your appetite can rise when you’re feeling drowsy, which creates the temptation to eat more than you normally would. Studies have shown that people with better sleep habits lost more weight when on a diet, compared to people sleeping less.
- Better sleep means less stress: Sleep is believed to have an impact on everything from cholesterol levels to blood pressure, all of which improve with better sleep habits. People who sleep more tend to have better control over their blood pressure.
Mental Health Advantages That Demonstrate the Importance of Sleep
The benefits to getting better, more restful sleep don’t stop with the physical issues. A sleepless night can make even the simplest tasks much harder, thanks to the negative impact it can have on your brain. More rest will make tasks like driving and solving problems easier than they’d be if you were sleep-deprived, but the benefits of more sleep for your mind don’t end there.
- Good sleep habits translate to better memory: While you sleep, your mind is hard at work, strengthening your grasp on what you tried to learn the previous day. Practicing during the waking hours is important, but what happens while you sleep reinforces your memory of whatever it was you sought out to learn.
- Better sleep, better grades: Children who suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep interruptions have more problems with learning and paying attention. Even when you get older, the importance of sleep for learning still matters — a study demonstrated that college students who didn’t sleep enough ended up getting lower grades than their well-rested peers.
- Feeling unhappy? Try getting more sleep: While it’s common knowledge that not sleeping enough can make a person irritable, the impact of poor sleep habits goes much farther than that. Restless nights can be a contributing factor to depression and can take away from your overall sense of well-being. A good night’s rest can decrease anxiety and improve your emotional stability.
- Sleep better, and you’ll be better in the workplace: Sleep helps your brain function at full capacity by preparing it for the next day. Good sleep means improved learning ability as well as enhanced memory. People who sleep better tend to be more connected with their surroundings and those who get unsound sleep have been shown to be less engaged at work.
If you’re trying to make a good impression on your boss, make sure you get a full night’s sleep! It can make all the difference in the world. If you’ve ever worked alongside someone who hadn’t slept very well the night before, you can also imagine that a proper night’s rest can make you a better coworker to be around.
Not Getting Good Sleep or its Benefits? It’s Time to Solve the Problem
If you’re suffering from physical ailments such as inflammation or high blood pressure and you’ve got a sleep disorder, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the heart of the problem. If sleep apnea is preventing you from getting a proper night’s rest, don’t wait around while it gets worse. Find out how a CPAP machine can get you better sleep along with a better quality of life.