Sleep is essential to our health and well-being so that we can live happy, productive lives. However, research done by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) indicates that more than 35 percent of adults get less than the optimal 7-8 hours of sleep per day. That’s a lot of cranky, bleary-eyed people trying to manage careers, school, and families while sacrificing sleep to get everything done. If you are one of those people, here are seven reasons why you need to reconsider the importance of sleep:
Improves Your Mood
Sleep helps to reset our emotional equilibrium by acting as a soothing balm over the stress of a long day. We wake up feeling refreshed and energized with a more positive outlook. Whereas, lack of sleep sours our disposition and makes us a pain to be around.
Increases Your Memory Function
A well-rested mind is a clear, alert mind that enables us to focus on tasks, retain information, and be more creative. Less sleep means that not only are we sluggish and slow to respond, but research indicates we may even develop “false memories,” and be unable to accurately recall certain information or situations.
Helps with Weight Loss
Insufficient sleep affects the hormonal balance of our appetites by lowering our Leptin levels which suppresses hunger pangs, and increasing our Ghrelin hormone levels that make us reach for a quick fix like a doughnut. Getting a good night’s sleep levels the playing field by metabolizing fat and creating a sense of fullness the next day.
Strengthens Your Immune System
When we become tired and rundown, so does our immune system making it harder to ward off germs that create the flu, colds, and bacterial infections. Getting a good night’s sleep is like putting on an invisible shield that helps us to fight fevers (remember fevers rise at night), and use less sick days.
Lowers Stress Levels
Sleep and stress have a two-way relationship because when we’re stressed it’s sometimes difficult getting to sleep. Likewise, if we don’t get enough sleep we’ll be irritable and stressed-out the next day. This is why it’s important to balance the scales by getting into a regular bedtime routine.
Improves Overall Health
Because routinely getting a good night’s sleep helps to lower our stress levels and lose a few pounds, this also lowers our blood pressure. Sleep also helps to lower our risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and strokes. Sleep is a vital defense mechanism that protects from harmful or foreign elements. Studies have shown that people who get 7-9 hours of sleep each night have a lower mortality rate than people who get less than six hours of sleep.
Reduce Symptoms in Mental Health Disorders
Long term sleep deprivation can lead to a sleep disorders such as insomnia which can lead to depression and anxiety. Studies indicate that sleep apnea is sometimes associated with ADHD. Often, people who abuse drugs and alcohol have sleep issues and use substances to help them fall asleep or stay awake the next day.
If you are suffering from insomnia, you may want to talk to a psychologist to see if there are any underlying issues that can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. After identifying behaviors and/or mental health issues that could be interfering with sleep, you can then learn about alternative remedies that will help you with good sleep-hygiene.