We've probably all heard about the many benefits of sleep, but with our busy lives, sleep tends to be the first thing we cut out. We go through life so tired sometimes we find ourselves falling asleep in the middle of meetings, daydreaming about a nap and counting the days till we can sleep in without setting an alarm.
Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in the United States, with about 45% of Americans affected by poor sleep on a weekly basis1. But there are so many more pluses to getting extra sleep, you have to wonder, why we aren't making sure we get more? So here are just a few benefits of sleep that might show you why your health depends on it:
1. You’ll maintain a healthier weight. Not getting enough sleep messes with your hormone balance, specifically the hormones ghrelin and leptin. An imbalance of those two can cause an increase in appetite, causing weight gain2. One study found that getting an extra two hours of sleep cut participants’ daily calorie intake by 300 calories3.
2. You can prevent diabetes. Too little sleep can negatively impact your blood sugar in a way that can lead to developing diabetes. Researchers discovered it only took four days of disturbed sleep to cause 30% of healthy young adults to develop prediabetic blood glucose levels4.
3. You’ll think better. You can probably relate to what it feels like being dazed on a day you’re overly tired. Quite simply, you will function better on every level if you get better sleep, especially, your brain. One study found even just a 26-minute nap increased participants’ performance at work by 34%5. Get more sleep and you’re bound to see a boost in your ability to focus on tasks, remember details and interact with others.
4. You’ll be in a better mood. Exhaustion has a tendency to make even the best of us cranky. What's more, sleep deprivation can be a factor in depression6.
5. You’ll be a safer driver. Driving sleep deprived has many parallels to driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s a proven fact that being awake for 17 hours or more reduces your response time to match someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.577. It’s estimated that over 100,000 accidents and 1,500 deaths are the result of drowsy driving every year. Choosing to get a good night’s sleep is actually a decision to protect your life and the lives of others on the road.
6. Your skin will look better. One study showed noticeable signs of aging in participants after only five nights of six hours of sleep or less. Yikes! The reason for this could be due to a growth hormone the body produces primarily during a state of deep sleep. This hormone contributes to better muscle mass and skin appearance. About the only way to make sure you get enough of this hormone is by getting the right amount of sleep!
7. Your heart will be healthier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has connected a good night’s sleep with reducing the risk of hypertension and strokes. Getting less than four hours of sleep can double your risk of heart disease8.
8. You’ll be less likely to get sick. Studies showed people who got seven hours of sleep a night were nearly three times as likely to catch a cold than those who got eight hours of sleep9.
To live a longer, healthier life, you really do need more sleep. Don’t feel bad reorganizing your schedule to include time for a longer night’s sleep or an afternoon nap. Sleep isn’t just a luxury, when it comes to your health, it's a necessity.
1. Lack of Sleep Is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation. (December 2014). https://sleepfoundation.org
2. R. Morgan Griffin. (n.d.) 9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep. http://www.webmd.com
3. 10 Reasons You Need More Sleep. http://besthealthus.com
4. Teresa Arora and Shahrad Taheri. (November 4, 2015). Sleep Optimization and Diabetes Control: A Review of the Literature. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
5. 10 Reasons You Need More Sleep. http://besthealthus.com
6. Dr. Mercola. (October 15, 2015). The Many Reasons Why You Need Sleep. http://articles.mercola.com
7. SJW. (July 3, 2009). 11 Reasons You Absolutely Need More Sleep. https://sleepfoundation.org
8. Getting Enough Sleep? (n.d) http://www.cdc.gov
9. R. Morgan Griffin. (n.d.) 9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep. (ND). http://www.webmd.com