Everyone knows that they function better when they’ve had a good night’s sleep; moreover, regular high quality sleep can have an incredible positive effect on one’s overall health. After much research I have compiled a list of the top 15 reasons to make proper sleep a priority in your life:
1. Reduced Stress – When you are sleep deprived, your body goes into a state of high alert – meaning that your blood pressure rises and production of stress hormones like cortisol increases. Not only does high blood pressure put you at risk for a host of health problems, more stress hormones actually make it more difficult for you to fall asleep when the time comes. Furthermore, regular sleep makes it easier to cope with life’s stressful situations.
2. Weight Control – It has been proven that people who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are more likely to be overweight or obese, and that lack of sleep has a negative impact on the balance of hormones that control your appetite.
3. Alertness & Productivity – Regular sleep increases your alertness and energy levels, causing you to be more productive and engaged the next day. Furthermore, regular sleep helps to keep you safe and aware.
4. Memory Boost – Memory consolidation happens while you sleep; during the night, your body processes the previous day and makes connections between events, sensory input, feelings, and older memories. Depriving yourself of sleep can lead to memory loss and related problems.
5. Reduced Risk of Depression – The amount of sleep you get has a direct effect on your serotonin levels, and people with a serotonin deficiency are much more likely to suffer from depression. Therefore, getting at least eight hours of sleep a night can have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and mood.
6. Stronger Immune System – Being sleep deprived can literally make you sick – by weakening your immune system so that your body has a harder time fighting off viruses and infections. Regular sleep can not only help you recover faster, it can prevent you from becoming ill in the first place.
7. Improved Physical Appearance – The term “beauty sleep” has very real connotations, because while you sleep your body restores and regenerates itself, including your skin and muscle tissue. Lack of sleep speeds up the aging process, resulting in dull skin, wrinkles, and dark under-eye circles.
8. Heart Health – Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol, which are major risk factors for heart disease and strokes (among other things).
9. Diabetes Prevention – People, even otherwise fit and healthy individuals, have developed insulin resistance (a symptom linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes) after being deprived of the deepest stage of sleep for only a few nights – an effect comparable to gaining twenty or thirty pounds. It goes to follow that regular sleep can help prevent diabetes.
10. Brain Power – Regular sleep allows your brain to process information more quickly and completely; your mind can comprehend new concepts more quickly and you will be more intellectually acute overall with plenty of rest. Learning new skills will also be easier, as your concentration is improved.
11. Increased Coordination – If you participate in any sports or other activities that require coordination and physical fitness, a good night’s sleep will ensure you are at the peak of your abilities. Your ability to work out and build muscle and endurance is also enhanced with consistent rest.
12. Overall Safety – People who get regular sleep are significantly less likely to engage in risky behaviors and substance abuse, as well as to use potentially harmful prescription drugs and other chemical sleep aids.
13. Better Moods – Lack of sleep tends to result in crankiness and a general negative and pessimistic mood; sleep deprived people can be unpleasant to be around and anti-social; on the other hand, more healthy sleep can lead to more positive interaction with others and increased happiness.
14. Heightened Creativity – Many artists and other creative types have come up with their best ideas and insights during their dreams or immediately after waking up from a deep sleep. Moreover, studies have suggested that sleep is key to creative problem solving – and the phrase “why don’t you sleep on it?” has become a popular adage for a good reason.
15. Longevity – Studies have shown that individuals who get a full night’s sleep (between seven to nine hours) on a regular basis tend to live longer lives – probably due to all the health benefits listed previously.