Sleep is as important to us as breathing, eating and drinking. It is what humans need to rest their bodies and refresh their minds. It goes way beyond improving your mood and removing those dark circles under your eyes. Sleep plays a huge part in a healthy lifestyle that none of us can ignore.
Sleep also affects the quality of everyday life. Many things that humans take for granted are actually affected by sleep. This underrated activity is actually so beneficial that according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, human bodies manages and requires sleep in the same manner that it regulates the need for drinking, eating and breathing. A large amount of medical studies have proven that sleep does play a vital role in promoting physical and emotional health.
It is also shown that sleep requirements vary by individual so there’s no need to worry about getting at least eight hours of sleep. But the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that most adults require eight hours per night. Newborns must get at least 12-18 hours, infants should get 14-15 hours and toddlers must have 12-14 hours while pre-schoolers need 11-13 hours as opposed to school-aged children that must have 10-11 hours. As they grown into teens, they must get 8-9 hours while adults require 7-9 hours at least. The appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis leads to longer, healthier lives as opposed to those who get very few or even too many hours each night. Sleep should definitely be a priority.
Another unsung benefit of sleep is that it keeps the heart healthy. A human’s cardiovascular system is constantly under plenty of pressure. So it is certainly a must to sleep better in order to live better. Illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging are linked with inflammation. High levels of “inflammatory markers” are linked to heart disease and stroke. Research shows that people who get less sleep- 6 or less hours a night- have higher levels of inflammatory proteins than those who snooze more.
Sleep can also keep the blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. It reduces high levels or stress and with that, people can have better control of their blood pressure.
Sleep improves memory too. Sleep deprivation makes it difficult to concentrate. Human minds are also busy while sleeping. During slumber time, humans can strengthen memories or “practice” skills that they have learned while they are awake. Something happens in slumber to help them learn it better. In other words, if you’re trying to learn something new and interesting, you’ll perform so much better after sleeping on it. It leads to memory problems with facts, faces, lessons or even conversations. If you sleep well, it will eliminate the risk because, as you sleep, your brain is going to be busy organizing and correlating memories. One of the greater benefits of sleep is that it allows the brain to process new experiences and knowledge thus increasing understanding and retention.
Aside from that, the brain organizes and restructures memories which results in more creativity. Even athletes show that after sleeping for at least 10 hours a night for 7-8 weeks improves their health by lessening daytime fatigue and adding more stamina.
It also assists in school performance for kids. For college students, according to a study, those 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 continuous sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning.”
Apart from the mental benefits, there are physical benefits too! Sleep helps control body weight concerns. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. There are studies that show that when the body is deprived of sleep, the normal hormone balances is upset and appetite increases. It’s a craving involving food high in calories, fats and carbohydrates and not fruits and vegetables. There is also an added benefit of having an earlier bedtime. The researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well-rested lost more fat than those who were sleep-deprived who lost more muscle mass. These dieters also reported that they felt hungrier when they got less sleep.
According to Dr Rapoport, “Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.” So sleep earlier to reduce cravings.
Sleeping well at night also means more than simply avoiding irritability in the next morning. Not many people know that a lack of
sleep can contribute to depression. A long good night’s sleep can decrease anxiety and provide better emotional stability. Everyone knows that a person who got insufficient sleep gets agitated or moody the next day. But when limited sleep becomes a chronic issue, studies show that it leads to long-term mood disorders such as our previous example which is depression or anxiety.
Therefore, the benefits of sleep can make a difference in the quality and longevity of your life. It’s a vital priority of your life that will allow you to enjoy lots of benefits as long as you’re getting an ample amount of sleep. Sleep well!