As many have started to count down the days until Santa arrives, we decided to put our own twist on the 25 Days of Christmas. Presenting, the 25 Benefits of (Good) Sleep. After all, ‘tis the season where everyone tends to wish each other “good health and happiness” in the coming year. Deep sleep is just as critical, if not more, to good health compared to nutrition and exercise. Therefore, we’ve compiled a few reasons that may inspire you to work on fixing your sleep habits during the holiday break. Almost half of the American population doesn't get enough sleep. For that 40%, getting more zzz’s would make our lives so much better.
- Maintain a healthy heart | Sleep is one of the best things you can do to boost heart health. During deep sleep, the heart beats slower, allowing it the chance to repair itself.
- Lower blood pressure | Lack of deep sleep can trigger adrenaline or cortisol production which can ultimately increase your blood pressure. When you enter deep sleep, you allow your body to rest, enabling your heart to beat slower. This lowers your blood pressure in result.
- Boost your immune system | Sleep supports organ and cell health. During deep sleep, your body produces immunity cells and antibodies that may help in fighting and preventing disease.
- Promote brain health | Deep sleep is the stage before the body enters REM (rapid eye movement) in which you experience dreams. During this sleep stage, the brain repairs cells while the body produces hormones and other neurotransmitters that can promote new brain cell production. During this time, the brain restores itself to defend itself from mental disorders.
- Improve memory and creativity | According to studies, deep sleep can enhance your memory creativity. Those who get enough deep sleep show better memory, learning performance and creativity in the work space and/or classroom.
- Improve concentration and productivity | Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
- Reduce mistakes | Although we don't always recognize it, we make more mistakes when we don't get enough sleep. While that error may just be a simple typo, other negligence can be much more serious.
- Reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease | By maintaining healthy brain function, deep sleep can significantly contribute in the prevention of memory loss. Alzheimer’s is a disease in which the brain loses its function of memory. Sleep helps the brain restore and repair damage within itself.
- Eat fewer calories | Studies show that sleep deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories.
- Improve digestion | Give your body 2-3 hours before going to bed to repair any damage in the digestion tracts and glands. Eating just before bed can cause the body to digest the food that you consume before sleep rather than focus on repairing the digestion tract.
- Repair body cells | During deep sleep, proteins in the body will work to repair any damage including injuries or harmful toxins, etc. Getting a good night’s sleep will help your body recover more quickly.
- Restore energy | Deeps sleep allows the body to restore energy. During sleep, the body produces energy you’re your metabolism which is stored until the next day when you wake up in the morning.
- Alleviate stress and depression | Sleep can alleviate stress and depression as it can calm nerves while allowing the heart to beat slower. Studies have proven that stress correlates to lack of deep sleep. Sleep has a soothing effect to the body but its deficiency can cause stress and depression.
- Promote good mood | After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal. Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. Subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted.
- Boost your relationships | Considering that sleep deprivation contributes to grouchiness and cranky moods, it’s no surprise that poor sleepers have more problems with their partner. These include disagreements and a reduced ability to have empathy for another.
- Promote healthy weight | Lack of quality sleep often increases food cravings which can lead to weight gain. Sleep has been known to improve the regulation of ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that promotes hunger while leptin kindles satiety. Without good sleep, the body may lose its control in regulating both hormones, creating a metabolic disorder that comes along obesity.
- Prevent diabetes | Diabetes can be caused by many factors. People who suffer from lack of sleep are more likely to develop a metabolic disorder such as obesity, which can later develop into diabetes. Getting enough good deep sleep can promote insulin regularity and help the body lower blood sugar.
- Get healthier skin | Along with mood disorders, sleeping poorly is also associated with chronic skin conditions. Some research shows that poor sleep, depression, anxiety, and chronic skin problems all go together.
- See more clearly | We don't function optimally without proper sleep. Our bodies (and eyes) become tired. The longer you stay awake, the more vision errors you make. These can range from tunnel vision to seeing double to even hallucinations.
- Promoting body growth in kids and teenagers | Sleep is important in the growing phase of children and teenagers. During deep sleep, the body produces a growth hormone that contributes to child growth. It also boosts muscle mass, learning memory and repairs damages in cells and tissues.
- Fight inflammation | Some studies found that people who lack sleep tend to have higher levels of C-reactive protein compared to those who were well rested. This protein is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Having good sleep will benefit the immune system to help the body fight inflammation.
- Maximize athletic performance | Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and muscle recovery. Even short-term sleep deprivation messes with these, throwing off your performance at the gym.
- Lower risk of injury | Sleeping enough might actually keep you safer. The Institute of Medicine estimates that one out of five auto accidents in the U.S. results from drowsy driving (that's about 1 million crashes a year).
- Reduce pain | If you have chronic pain, or acute pain from a recent injury, getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold. Unfortunately, being in pain can make it hard to sleep.
- Help prevent headaches | Sleep deprivation plays an indirect role in making your head hurt by making you less able to cope with stress and anxiety, two things that can trigger a pounding headache.
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