Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
January 30, 2020
3 min read
We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, and yet people are chronically sleep-deprived due to the many pressures and responsibilities of modern life.
The advent of smartphones has also changed the sleeping game — for the worse. With never-ending social media feeds in the palms of our hands and the blue light everywhere, it seems like we’re fighting an upward battle in our efforts to get enough sleep.
The thing is, when we do experience a good night’s sleep, we feel amazing. We have more energy, we’re less moody and we make better decisions. Can you imagine feeling that way every day?
If you can manage to get enough sleep every night, which ranges between 7-9 hours for a healthy adult, then your whole life can change.
Think that’s an exaggeration? Think again.
You don’t need science to tell you that when you get a night’s sleep, you feel good. Of course, there are numerous scientific studies that prove the connection between sleep and mood. When you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to be cranky and irritable, but when you do get enough sleep, you feel calm and at ease. Moreover, people who get enough sleep are less at-risk for depression, while people with insomnia have a tenfold risk of developing depression. While insomnia is a sleep disorder and not the same as just staying up late and scrolling through your phone, both can result in depression and should be addressed.
Like depression, stress and sleep are interrelated. On the one hand, people who are stressed have a hard time falling asleep, but on the other hand, people who get enough sleep are less stressed. It’s a cycle that can be hard to break, but when you finally are able to get enough sleep, you will probably find that you are less stressed throughout the day.
Sleep triggers changes in the brain that improve our memory, including strengthening connections between brain cells and transferring information between regions. Additionally, healthy sleep makes it easier to process and retain the information we receive throughout the day.
Sleep is a time when the body’s cells are able to repair themselves, so the lack of sleep means that your cells won’t be in their best state. Additionally, lack of sleep results in lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in protecting against DNA damage. Therefore, it makes sense that people who endure a continual lack of sleep can be more susceptible to certain cancers.
Similar to cancer prevention, getting enough sleep can also improve the ability of your body’s immune cells to fight infection. The flip side is that if you don’t get enough sleep, the body’s immune response can be damaged and it will be more difficult to stave off or heal from infections.
Sleep is a time when the body is able to rest and regulate itself, and blood pressure is certainly included in this. When your body doesn’t have enough of a resting period, it can lead to high blood pressure. The good news is that as soon as you start getting enough shut-eye, you can see your blood pressure drop back to normal (assuming you don’t have other health issues).
Sleep and weight maintenance are related in several ways. First, if you go to sleep at an earlier hour, there is less time in the day to consume calories. No midnight snacking means doing away with all those unwanted calories. Secondly, when you sleep, your body gets re-energized so that it doesn’t need to seek energy during the day from extra calories. And on a physiological level, lack of sleep causes your body to produce hunger-causing hormones leptin and ghrelin. It also causes your fat cells to lose their ability to use insulin properly, which can lead to fat build-up and even diabetes.