Why sleep is so important for your overall health
When it comes to health and wellness, getting enough sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. The reason for this is that sleep is the process that the body uses to continually repair and restore the vital functions it needs to remain healthy. A good night’s sleep is therefore essential for both physical and mental health and should never be neglected.
To bring the point home, we’ve listed several of the many benefits a good night’s sleep will bring.
Concentration and productivity are improved
Sufficient restful sleep can contribute towards making your brain and mental processes more effective and productive. You will feel sharper, more attentive, and focused throughout the day.
Sleep helps reduce stress
Stress is something that is all too common with today’s highly paced and pressurized lifestyles. A sufficient period of good sleep at night, reduces the level and production of stress hormones in the body, minimizing its effects.
Sleep can help you maintain your weight
While it won’t directly reduce your weight, studies show that sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. This means that getting a good night’s sleep can result in a reduced craving for high calorie junk foods during the day.
Helps improved athletic performance
Because the body heals during periods of good sleep, this results in increased energy levels during waking hours. This means better muscular coordination plus enhanced and faster athletic performance.
Sleep can lower your blood pressure
Sufficient restful sleep provides a period of constant relaxation which in turn enables the nervous system to control and reduce elevated blood pressure levels. The resultant health benefits include a reduced chance of heart attacks and strokes.
- Sleep can improve your memory
When one is excessively tired it is much harder for the brain to recall things, negatively impacting on productivity. A sufficient period of proper sleep allows good brain function to be restored, with the result that one feels alert and invigorated after a proper night’s rest.
- Sleep improves mood
Lack of sleep causes us to feel irritated and agitated, with negative results on our social interaction and behavior.
A good night’s sleep, facilitates staying stay calm and controlled, enabling us to efficiently handle all the problems that life constantly throws at us.
- Sleep helps the management of many chronic illnesses
Studies have shown that chronic and debilitating conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and poor mental health, amongst others, can often be effectively managed and controlled by sufficient good sleep.
Achieving good sleep patterns
So, how can we manage and improve our sleep patterns in order to benefit from them?
- Get to bed regularly at a realistic time, even on weekends.
- Keep the ambient temperature in the bedroom comfortable.
- Make sure to reduce light levels when you sleep.
- Turn off the TV, shut down your computer, and put your cell phone in silent mode.
- Cut back on consuming alcohol, coffee, and large meals in the hours close to bedtime.
- As always, get enough meaningful exercise during the day.
How much sleep do we really need?
Like many things in life, sleep requirements do vary from person to person. The usual figure quoted for healthy adults is somewhere between 7 to 9 hours sleep per night. To function at one’s best it is important to determine what your body optimally requires, and then to stick to that. Despite the notion that sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Can I get away with less?
While it is possible to get by with less sleep than we really need, there is always going to be a massive downside. In addition to possible long-term health issues, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions will be negatively impacted during the following day.
At the end of the day (pun intended!) we need sufficient sleep to be at our best, physically, and mentally. The short-term advantages of squeezing more wakeful hours into the day will inevitably be offset by the long-term harm that we are doing to our minds and our bodies. So, make the move to a healthier sleep schedule and experience the tremendous benefits it will bring.