Anyone out there ever considered the importance of sleep for health? How many of you are out there every day, chasing careers, trying to beat the traffic, getting to school, dropping/picking up the kids, going to football games/dance classes etc, rushing home, working late, getting lunches etc??? ……. And finally at 10pm you get to sit on your sofa for an hour before heading to bed before it all starts again the next day! (its tiring even writing it!)
If we are to be honest with ourselves, this probably reflects most of our daily lives in some form….. Me included. While this article is not going to teach you how to live your life, I am going to let you into a secret I learned a few years back and that is the importance of sleep for health. Trust me, it truly is a secret weapon for looking after your health that the vast majority of people don’t realise…… and its FREE for everyone 🙂
From the time we jump out of bed in the morning, we are being pressed down upon by constant stresses as we chase schedules, worry about our job, difficult customers, a more difficult boss, issues at school, problems with the children and multiple other things in our lives. While each and every one has a different stress threshold and everyone deals with pressures differently, the one thing that we all have in common is a need to unwind from this incessant ‘squeezing down’ upon us. Now, if you keep adding to these pressures with no focus on yourself and you do this over a long period plus you bring in the effects of too much alcohol, smoking, poor diet, pollution and so on, it is then only a matter of time before your body & mind says enough is enough and gets sick.
How we deal with the above through positive activity will be dealt with in other articles but for now we will just deal with the importance of sleep for health. When we sleep, there are multiple physical and mental benefits for everyone. But here are some of the more obvious.
13 Benefits on the Importance of Sleep for Health.
- Improved sleep reduces the risk of heart attacks
It is a known fact that high blood pressure increases your chances of heart attacks and strokes. But when you sleep, your body relaxes including your arteries which can help reduce blood pressure.
- When you lack sleep, your body gets even more stressed
When we don’t get enough sleep, the body reacts by producing more stress hormones. Deep and regular sleep can help prevent this.
- Sleep helps reduce inflammation
Lack of sleep, increases stress hormones in the body. Stress hormones raise inflammation levels in the body. Conversely, better sleep reduces inflammation.
- Improves your memory
Did you ever notice that when you are tired, it is harder to recall information? Well, guess what? sleep plays a really big part in information retention and learning. Without sleep it is much more difficult to focus, process information and manage tasks. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25052368
- Better sleep makes you more alert
After a good night’s sleep, we all feel more energised and alert. Feeling refreshed will encourage you to get out and be active and be more engaged with the world around you.
- Improves your mood
Lack of sleep makes us feel agitated and grumpy making us more likely to be in a bad mood or snappy with those closest to us. Furthermore, approximately 90% of people who have been diagnosed with depression have complained about sleep quality. So, if we can improve sleep, we can improve how we feel.
- Helps you recover from injuries faster
After really intense sessions, or if you are recovering from injury, proper sleep is one of the most critical things you can do to aid recovery and boost future performance. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage.
- Better sleep is believed to aid weight loss
Psychologically, when you are less tired, you are less hungry. Also, if you have less energy, you are less likely to exercise. From a scientific point of view the hormones leptin and ghrelin are known as the ‘hunger hormones’ and we don’t get good sleep these become further imbalance, contributing to us eating more. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23419528 . (10 Fat burning foods from your local grocery store)
- Fighting illness
As a child, how many times were we told that after a good nights sleep we will feel better in the morning? Well it turns out scientific research backs this up. We now know that our immunity system fights bacteria. However, sleep changes the way our immune cells work to make this process happen more efficiently.
- Sleep improves your Athletic performance
In studies, sleep has been shown to improve both speed, reaction times and the ability to assess situations and take positive actions (good life skill as well as a sporting attribute). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731144
- Improved physical well-being as we age
In a study of over 2,800 women, it was shown that there was a clear link between poor sleep and slower walking, grip strength and other activities. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17969465/
- Type 2 Diabetes
While there are many reasons for Diabetes, it has been demonstrated that poor sleep affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. If you are worried about what you eat, here is a useful shopping list to consider.
- Nap your way to a healthier you.
I have long been a fan of getting out for a quick 15-minute snooze during the day(doesn’t happen every day, but if I am office based I go to my car) as it seemed to help me. Now I realise that those little naps are now known for both reducing stress and increasing brain function….. Little did I know 🙂 Here is a more detailed article that shares more information on power napping. https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-reap-the-health-benefits-of-power-naps-2224261
With all of these amazing benefits, there is no denying the importance of sleep for health. So what are you going to do about it? I know what I am going to do next…. zzzzzz!
PS For those who struggle getting to sleep, read our next article on 10 Tips on Getting to Sleep.