A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, our current environment is interfering with natural sleep patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is important
Poor Sleep Can Make You Fat
Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain. People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively.
The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise.
If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.
Good Sleepers Tend to Eat Fewer Calories
Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.
Good Sleep Can 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. A study on medical interns provides a good example.
Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
Another study found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication. On the other hand, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.
Good Sleep Can 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 mental wellbeing.
Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women. A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength and greater difficulty performing independent activities.
Poor Sleepers Have a Greater Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
It’s known that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.
Sleep Affects Glucose Metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity. In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. These symptoms resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.
Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than six hours.
Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression
Mental health issues, such as depression are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and disorders.
It has been estimated that up to 80% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea also report higher rates of depression.
Sleep Improves Your Immune Function
Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. If you often get colds, ensuring that you get the recommended amount of sleep can improve this.
Poor Sleep is Linked to Increased Inflammation
Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases.
Sleep Affects Emotions and Social Interactions
Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Several studies confirmed this using facial recognition tests. One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognise expressions. It is also believed that a lack of sleep impairs our ability to pick up social cues.
The Bottom Line
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.
If you are having any issues with sleep it is important to speak with your GP.