The Benefits of Sleep

In this earlier post we talked about the importance of the LAW of good health, namely Light, Air and Water. We could have called it the LAWS of good health and added Sleep.

Up to 35% of adults in the United States don’t get enough sleep. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. But what does that really do for you?

The benefits of sleep

There are many benefits of always getting adequate sleep. For instance, sleep can:

1. Boost your immune system

Adequate sleep will strengthen your immune system and you will be able to ward off whatever comes its way like colds and flu. Also, when we get a bad cold or flu it is good to go to bed and sleep. This allows your immune system the time and energy it needs to fight off sickness.

2. Help prevent weight gain

You can’t lose weight by sleeping, but if you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite. Your body also decreases the production of leptin, a hormone that tells you you’re full. Also, when you don’t sleep enough you get more stressed and can end up eating comfort junk food or drinking too many beers!

3. Keep your heart healthy

Just like your immune system, your heart needs rest in order to function powerfully and properly. Whereas, not getting enough sleep can lead to heart health problems like high blood pressure or heart attacks. The reason is that lack of sleep can cause your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers your heart to work harder. 

4. Improve your mood

Getting a good sleep can lead to good moods. If you sleep well, you wake up feeling rested with good energy levels. When you have energy, life is that much easier and less daunting. You will get frustrated and annoyed less and you will achieve more. All things that will elevate your mood.

5. Help maintain good relationships

Your sleep habits have a wider effect on the people around you than you think. If sleep deprivation contributes to crankiness and low mood, it’s no wonder poor sleepers have more problems with their partners. Whereas good sleep will contribute to good relationships which is one of the foundations of well-being.

6. Increase your productivity

Sleep has been linked to higher cognitive function generally and improved concentration, both of which can help your overall productivity. Just one restless night will lead to feeling fuzzy headed and unfocused the next day. Your memory recall isn’t as sharp, and everything you do is in slow-motion. You are more likely to make mistakes at work, but less likely to realise it and correct them.

7. Reduce your chances of having an accident

According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, you’re twice as likely to get in a car accident when you’ve had just 6-7 hours of sleep. If you sleep less than five hours and your chances of a crash quadruple! That’s because your reaction time slows down considerably when your brain isn’t fully rested.

8. Increase exercise performance

Quality sleep is like nature’s sports supplement, improving your speed, hand-eye coordination, reaction time and muscle recovery. Thing is, even short-term sleep deprivation messes with these, throwing off your performance at the gym. Plus, depriving yourself of sleep can have a negative impact on strength and power.

9. Improve memory

Even though sleep gives your body the rest it needs, your mind is still hard at work. It’s processing and consolidating your memories from the previous day. If you don’t get enough sleep that memory processing is compromised.

10. Reduce energy use

Whilst you are asleep you are using little, or no energy; indeed, according to research, sleeping generally uses the least energy of any activity. On the other hand, if you are not sleeping you will be using much more energy, and therefore your carbon footprint. If you get six hours sleep instead of eight you might be increasing your daily energy use by about 10% depending on what you are actually doing.

Conclusion: The benefits of sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health.

Sleep deprivation can put your health and safety at risk, which is why it is important that you prioritise good sleep on a daily basis.