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5 Reasons Why Good Sleep is Essential for Your Health

May 15, 2020 4 min read

5 Reasons Why Good Sleep is Essential for Your Health

In the past, the importance of sleep has been ignored by doctors and officials and still gets neglected to this day. Only in recent years, more and more studies have been devoted to finding out how sleep affects our day-to-day lives.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a number of serious health problems, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep!

The fact is, sleep is as vital as breathing, eating, or drinking. Yet, it is one of the first things we are willing to sacrifice, whether to meet a deadline or to watch just one more episode.

Here are 5 benefits of good sleep, that'll make you want to go right back to bed.

Man sleeping in bedLightFieldStudios // Shutterstock

#1: It does wonders for your emotional well-being

Ever woke up cranky and were in a bad mood the whole day because you didn’t sleep enough or slept poorly?  Of all the things that are affected by sleep loss, our mood is number one.

Even more worrying: a lot of studies have looked into the link between lack of sleep and depression, and there is a definitive connection. It’s been estimated that 90% of people with depression suffer from poor quality of sleep. You’re also more likely to develop other mental disorders such as anxiety if you don’t get enough sleep. And it makes sense: sleep has an impact on many different chemicals in your body. This also includes serotonin, often called the "happy chemical".

If you're not getting enough serotonin, you are more likely to suffer from depression.

So, if you’re feeling down or in a bad mood, try taking a nap and following a healthy sleep schedule of 7-9 hours of sleep per night. When you get the right amount of rest and keep it consistent, you’ll be able to notice a big change in your overall mood and energy levels. You’ll be happier, more patient and less irritable!

 

#2: It strengthens your immune system

While you’re getting some well-deserved Zzzz’s after a long day, your whole body is actually busy at work.

When we sleep our body creates extra protein molecules. Those allow cells to heal damages (caused by stress, UV-rays, and other things) and strengthen our immune system. Our immune system is like our body's firewall so to speak: it checks our body for viruses, harmful bacteria, and other infections and destroys them.

Lack of sleep (and even a small loss) can affect how well the immune system performs. It might not attack as quickly and as a result, you’re likely to fall sick more often. One large 2-week study exposed people to the common cold. Those who were sleeping 7 hours or less a night were almost 3 times as likely to develop the common cold as those who slept 8 hours a night.

A healthy sleep schedule not only helps you ward off illnesses but also helps you recover faster when you’re sick.

  

#3: It encourages good heart health

Often caused by high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases and strokes are globally the leading causes of death.

Sleeping helps to reduce blood pressureand allows your heart and blood vessels to take a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure is high in a day, which puts more stress on your heart.

Less sleep also causes your body to release the stress hormone cortisol. Mixed with adrenaline, it will produce cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can clog up your arteries and cause heart diseases. One study showed that the risk of heart attacks can be increased by 45% as a result of sleeping 5 hours or less per night.By the same token, getting lots of sleep makes you less likely to develop cardiovascular problems down the line.

Woman waking up and stretchingNenad Aksic // Shutterstock 

#4: It makes you more attractive

Talk about getting your “beauty sleep”!

Getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis makes you appear younger and healthier (thus more attractive) to others, a study showed.

Another study found that people who slept enough recovered faster from UV light exposure (remember what we said in #2 😉?), and their skin also showed fewer signs of aging.

 

#5: Lack of sleep can kill you. Literally.

It goes without saying that sleep affects your driving skills. Not only is your eyesight getting worse the sleepier you are, but your reaction times are slower and you are less able to make good decisions. In the US alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy drivingwas responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. Driving sleepy is like driving drunk. You are twice as likely to get into an accident when you’re functioning on 6-7 hours of sleep per night instead of 8 hours. Less than that and your chances quadruple.

The number of workplace accidents linked to fatigue is also on the rise and costs more than $77 billion each year. A study of 50,000 people in Sweden found that those who reported sleep problems were almost twice as likely to die in a work-related accident!

 

The bottom line

Good sleep can improve your overall quality of life in a drastic manner and help in preventing serious health issues. The number of hours of sleep you need per night varies depending on your age. According to the CDC, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-12 months): 12-16 hours
  • Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School Age (6-12 years): 9-12 hours
  • Teen (13-18 years): 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-60 years): 7 or more hours
  • Adults (61-64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours

But enough sleep hours is not all. Sleep quality also plays a big part! If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night or don't feel refreshed after a full night of sleep you might have some underlying sleep problems. If those sleep problems are recurring, it might be best to talk about it with your doctor, but getting better sleep quality can already start with the right pillow.


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