10 surprising benefits of sleep... that you might not be aware of
Sleep, something we all wished we had more of. Yet, it is so difficult to get at times. Now, we are starting to realise that a good night's sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing. It’s forming the 3 main pillars of our health, just as important as eating healthy and exercising.
Unfortunately, the need for sleep is often ignored in the modern hustling and overworking culture, people are sleeping less than they did in the past and sleep quality has decreased as well. This is leading to damaging consequences for health and wellbeing.
Here are 10 reasons why you should prioritize your sleep:
1. Sleep improves your immune function (even make vaccines more effective)
When your body gets the sleep it needs, your immune cells and proteins get the rest they need to fight off whatever comes their way. According to studies, proper sleep can also make vaccines more effective, which is obviously a plus. Even a small loss of sleep impairs your immune function. One large study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the cold virus. They found out that those who sleep less than 7 hours were almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.
2. Sleep may help you lose weight
Poor sleep is strongly linked to obesity. Researchers have found that people with fewer hours of sleep per night are more likely to gain weight. It is thought that a lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite.
The hormone ghrelin and leptin which regulates appetite have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. If you want to shed some pounds, getting adequate good night sleep regularly is a huge part of the equation.
3. Sleep may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Heart attacks and strokes are more likely to occur during the early morning hours, which may be due to the way sleep interacts with our blood vessels. Sleep deprivation has been associated with worsening of blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, which are the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
4. Sleep may help to prevent cancer
Did you know that late shift workers have a higher risk of developing colon and breast cancer? Researchers believe that sleep cycle disruption reduces melatonin levels in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, it's thought to protect against cancer as it appears to suppress the growth of tumours. Making sure you sleep in a dark enough environment and avoid blue light exposure at night will help your body to produce the melatonin it needs to maintain your circadian rhythm.
5. Sleep gives you a sharper brain and better memory
Sleep plays an important role in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it’s tough to focus and take in new information. This is because sleep works on the brain process called memory consolidation. During sleep, your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing the information that you get during your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings, and memories. Deep sleep is a very important time for your brain to make the neural links in your brain and getting more quality sleep will help in your memory and process things better.
6. Sleep may reduce the risk of depression
When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress and impacts many of the chemicals in your body, particularly your happy neurotransmitter - serotonin. People with serotonin deficiency are more likely to suffer from depression. It is estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about the poor sleeping quality.
7. Sleep reduces inflammation
Sleep loss is known to affect your body’s inflammatory response and activate undesired inflammation and cell damage. Long-term inflammation is thought to cause the body’s functions to deteriorate and leads to cellular aging and chronic diseases. Poor sleep has also been strongly linked to different chronic inflammatory health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, heart disease as well as cancer.
8. Sleep can increase your productivity
You may think that you are getting more work done by burning the midnight oil, but putting off a good night’s rest could have an adverse effect on your productivity. In fact, sleep has been linked to improved concentration and higher cognitive function, both of which can help you be successful at work. But one restless night can make you more likely to make mistakes and that many cups of coffee won't be helpful. Speaking of coffee, the more tired you feel, the more likely you are to reach for that afternoon cup. While this may seem to fix your afternoon crash problem, the extra caffeine late in the day could stay in your body and set you up for another sleepless night. A counterproductive vicious cycle.
9. Sleep can increase your exercise performance
Sleep is shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep significantly improves speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental wellbeing. Besides robbing your energy and time for muscle repair, lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what gets you to the finish line. You will face a harder mental and physical challenge with slower reaction times. Proper rest sets you up for your best performance.
10. Sleep deprivation is dangerous, especially on the road.
According to a traffic safety study, people are twice as likely to get in a car accident when they are crushing on six to seven hours of sleep compared to if they get a full eight hours. Sleeping less than 5 hours and the chances of a crash are quadruple! That’s because the reaction time slows down when the brain isn’t fully rested.
Combining various medical disciplines with a host of functional therapy approaches, RejuvaHub (formerly known as Tree of Life) is a one-stop, fully integrated centre specialised in preventing and managing chronic illnesses. If you want to consult any medical advice on chronic diseases, cancer, and rejuvenation, please feel free to request our 15 mins Free Online Consultation.