8 Benefits of Sleep
8 Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
By Finnegan Pierson
Many times, people undervalue just how essential a good night's sleep is. It's becoming more and more common to take pride in how little sleep one gets and how productive they believe that makes them. However, they are not really as productive as they believe they are. That's because the quality of anything that is done during your waking hours goes down significantly the less sleep that you get.
It's also important to consider the quality of your sleep. Getting eight hours in is not going to be as beneficial if those are restless for one reason or another versus someone getting eight hours of relaxed, peaceful sleep. The latter person is going to be a lot more apt to be refreshed and operating as close to their potential throughout the next day.
Getting optimal sleep results in so many benefits. Here are eight.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of healthy sleeping is that it has a tremendously positive impact on the sharpness of your brain. In other words, what you need to do the next day is done much more effectively and efficiently following a good night's sleep than would be possible if your sleep length or quality was poor.
As a result, you'll most likely experience difficulty learning and remembering details and analyzing those if you're tired. You may even be stuck for significant periods of time being unable to process even the simplest things if your sleep quality or duration was excessively poor. Think of it like your car attempting to get you to your destination on a poor engine, one that wheezes and cracks along the way before ultimately completely breaking down, and you end up falling asleep.
Another significant benefit of sleeping better is being able to enjoy more positive emotions while you're awake. Part of the reason for this is due to your mind spending your sleep time processing your past emotions. If this is taken away or the duration or quality of this is reduced, your brain won't be able to complete this process, and that'll lead to you being much more irritable during the following day.
In fact, you can develop a mood disorder if you suffer from long-term insomnia or otherwise experience a lack of quality sleep on a regular basis. Studies have shown that between 65-90% of adults with major depression also experience sleep problems. Or course, sleeping better is not a cure-all for depression, but it can help while not sleeping well can cause depression to be much more likely to occur.
Increased Heart Health
Your heart needs rest just as much as your brain and the rest of your body do, and a quality night's sleep provides it with just that. During this time, your blood pressure is naturally decreased, and your heart and its connecting blood vessels get a well-deserved break. Conversely, not sleeping enough results in you experiencing higher blood-pressure levels than would otherwise be the case.
About one out of every three adult Americans suffers from high blood pressure, and getting enough quality sleep is one of the best ways that you can battle that if you're included in that number or avoid it if your blood pressure is currently healthy. Note that high blood pressure is a leading risk for heart disease and stroke.
Improved Athletic Performances
So many athletic activities that you can take part in are affected by your sleep. Endurance activities are adversely affected by poor sleep quality as your body just does not have the necessary fuel that it needs to get through those exhausting activities at a high enough level. This can also lead to those activities being much more dangerous than they otherwise would be as you're much more apt to injure yourself while tired.
Also, athletic performances that require the use of your mind such as playing a sport like baseball, football or basketball will be hampered. For example, you won't be able to read what type of pitch a pitcher is throwing and be able to react in time to swing or not if you're sleep-deprived. Even activities that might not appear to use the mind as much such as running really do as you constantly analyze how fast you need to go at any given time to ensure that your cumulative run is a quality one.
You might believe that the more time you spend awake, the healthier your weight will be since you believe that you're naturally going to be more active during times when you're awake than while you're sleeping. However, this is not true for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons is that if you're awake for more hours of the day than you should be, you're actually going to be naturally more tired for those hours and be much less apt to move then, and the total amount of your activity for the day will be reduced.
Another reason is related to your appetite. The parts of your brain that control your appetite are thrown out of whack when you do not sleep as much or as well. As a result, you're more apt to eat a significantly unhealthier diet than you otherwise would, which, of course, is a recipe for disaster.
Strengthen Your Immune Cells
A significant benefit of ensuring that you sleep better is that doing so allows your immune cells to rest up and get stronger so that they can battle the bacteria and viruses that are so intent on damaging your body. Improved quality and duration of sleep helps them attack those bacteria and viruses much more quickly and effectively than they would if they're exhausted, resulting in you getting sick much less often than would otherwise be the case.
For example, if you contract a common cold virus, but you're well rested, you're going to be much more apt to not end up showing any symptoms and, as a result, be stronger in the long run. And, even if that virus turns into the disease, being well rested will allow your body to be more effective fighting it and decrease its severity and duration.
Steadier Glucose Levels
A better period of sleep also helps steady your glucose levels and reduce your chances of contracting type 2 diabetes. This is due to the amount of glucose that's in your blood dropping while you enjoy the deep stage of your sleep cycle. A recent study showed that participants who only slept for four hours a night for six consecutive nights experienced 40% lower glucose tolerance. It should also be pointed out that when those same participants ate a breakfast that was high in carbohydrates, their glucose levels were exceptionally high as compared to well-rested individuals eating that same breakfast.
Sleep is one of the body's best natural painkillers, and the reverse is true; a lack of sleep causes greater sensitivity to pain. This latter situation results from poor sleep experiences negatively impacting the brain's natural painkilling response. In fact, it's believed that many Americans suffering from a lack of sleep, which results in them experiencing more pain, has a lot to do with why so many take opioids as painkillers when many of them wouldn't need to if they were well rested.
So, if you want to be able to withstand greater amounts of pain, get a good night's sleep. Check out this program that helps you sleep better, to really get the benefits of a great night of relaxing and refreshing sleep.