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5 (More) Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep

July 26, 2020 4 min read

5 (More) Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep

This is part two of our series on the benefits of sleep! If you haven't read the first part, you can read it here.

Since sleep is such a big and vital part of our lives (it represents a third of our life), we thought we'd show you some more benefits of hitting the snooze button.

Here are 5 more reasons to stay in bed a little longer.

#1: Sleep is a natural analgesic

Do you often suffer from headaches or migraines? Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can be a reason for that.

Even though doctors aren’t certain why yet, studies have shown a link between poor sleep quality and episodic migraines. According to WebMD, one of the reasons could be an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine levels from waking up at the wrong time or with too little sleep.

Studies have also shown that sleep loss increases pain sensitivity, which is bad news for those who suffer from chronic pain. Subjects in a study have shown less pain tolerance after a night of no sleep than when they had a full night of sleep. There’s also evidence that lack of sleep can interfere with the efficacity of pain relief drugs. The good news is that getting good sleep can make pain, whether it is from a stomach ache or a sprained ankle, hurt less too.

 

#2: It helps with weight control

While sleep doesn't make you lose weight directly, it certainly helps to at least maintain it and lowers the risk of gaining weight.

Many studies show that people who sleep 6 hours or less per night are more likely to be obese. One reason behind that is that when you’re not getting enough rest, your body goes into energy hoarding mode. Since the body is not getting energy through sleep, it will try to get it through other means. Those are usually sugar and fats.

When you’re tired your body releases the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. It also makes you crave unhealthy food that is high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. On top of that, your body also reduces the amount of leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full. This can often result in late-night snacking and cause weight gain and even diabetes.

Having a healthy sleep pattern helps to regulate the hormones affecting appetite, meaning you’ll feel less hungry. So, if you want to lose weight, getting an adequate amount of sleep is paramount.

Man stretching in bedKamil Macniak // Shutterstock

#3: It reduces the risk of diabetes and certain forms of cancer

Bouncing off from what we said earlier, according to WebMD, “people with high blood sugar are a key indicator of someone with sleep problems because they are trying to get energy from sources other than sleep.”

Deep sleep lowers our blood sugar. If you don't get enough of that sleep stage your body will have a very difficult time regulating blood sugar levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. This also applies to skinny people!

A study showed that sleep deprivation can cause symptoms of prediabetes in healthy young men after only a week. A few days of longer sleep reversed those again.

On a similar note, researchers have also found out that night workers are at a higher risk of developing colon and breast cancer. They believe it is caused by reduced melatonin levels, which are a result of light exposure. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and is believed to protect against cancer, as it appears to suppress tumor growth.

 

#4: It improves your memory and makes you smarter

During sleep, your brain is busy organizing and storing memories. During a process called "consolidation", your brain converts short-term memory into long-term memory.

It's great when you're learning something new, whether it's mental (learning a new language) or physical (practicing the piano). After a good night's sleep, you'll perform better.

A study also suggests that sleep basically “restarts” the brain-related memory connections. This leaves the brain ready for building new connections the next day. Without this process, we wouldn’t be able to make new memories or learn new things. The next time you feel a little overwhelmed by new information, take a little nap to help your brain process it. This is especially beneficial before an exam.

 

#5: It can improve your relationships

Not only does good rest make you more patient, less irritable, and improves emotional and social intelligence, but it also contributes to a healthier sex drive.

Poor sleep quality might result in lower libido and can cause sexual problems like erectile dysfunction. It also makes you less receptive to humor, which can hinder communication in your relationships. Studies, using emotional facial recognition tests, have shown that sleep loss can make you less able to recognize social cues or facial expressions such as anger and happiness. If all this isn’t a good reason to hit the sack, we don’t know.

Happy couple in bedOPOLJA // Shutterstock

The bottom line

Sleep should be treated as something more than just a waste of time. And to those that keep saying "time is money" and "sleep is for the weak": just think how much more productive you'll be and how much more money you can make when you're well-rested and feeling motivated. Here is again the recommended hours of sleep, according to the CDC:

  • 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

If you have recurring sleep problems that are preventing you from getting a good quality of sleep, talk about it with your doctor. Getting better sleep quality can also already start with the right pillow.

 

 


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