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Top Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

If you’re reading this, you’re not asleep yet! Here’s why you should be! Sleeping is essential for your mental & physical wellbeing – Read more to discover why.

Sleeping is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Believe it or not a number of very important things are happening in our minds and bodies whilst we sleep and just because we can’t see these doesn’t mean they don’t matter, they do.

If you’re not convinced about the health benefits of a good night’s sleep then you need to read this article. After reading I fully expect you will be more inclined to go to bed a little earlier and maybe even get up a little later!

Here’s the top ten health benefits of a good night’s sleep. Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

1. Sleep Helps Reduce Stress

During a good night’s sleep our body is cleansing itself of toxins and rebalancing hormone levels. Research suggests that even partial sleep loss can significantly elevate the presence of stress hormones in our body.

One particular study found that even partial sleep deprivation could increase the presence of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 45%.

When we are stressed or have an illness our body produces higher levels of cortisol. The cortisol raises both our blood pressure and blood sugar and this helps us survive short periods of stress.

Over longer periods however excessive cortisol levels create a number of health risks including:

  • Weakened immunity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypertension
  • High blood sugar (Hyperglycaemia)
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
  • Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly
  • Reduced libido

In summary studies suggest that prolonged exposure to excessive levels of stress hormones such as cortisol can be very damaging to your health. You can however significantly reduce the risks to you by getting regular high quality sleep which helps your body to maintain healthy hormone levels.

2. Sleep Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight

Sleep can help your body to maintain normal hormone levels which in turn helps you to maintain a healthy body weight.

Studies have found that inadequate sleep can spike stress hormones in your body such as cortisol by as much as 45%. Prolonged exposure to excessive cortisol levels creates numerous risk factors for weight gain, including:

  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood sugar (Hyperglycaemia)
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
  • Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly

Maintaining healthy hormone levels is a significant factor in controlling your body weight and for this reason is one of the key health benefits of a good night’s sleep

3. Sleep Can Boost Your Mood

Most people have experienced a sleepless night and felt all too clearly the impact on their mood. After a sleepless night we are more likely to be irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress.

Some studies have shown that even partial sleep loss can have a significant impact on our mood. University of Pennsylvania research found that subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, sad, angry and mentally exhausted.

Other studies have found links between sleep disorders and depression. One study found that 15 to 20 percent of people diagnosed with insomnia will go on to develop major depression. Whilst more research is needed to understand the relationship between sleep and mood, the current medical evidence supports a strong correlation between sleep and mental health.

4. Sleep Can Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (HBP) also known as Hypertension (HTN or HT), is a long-term medical condition where an individual’s blood pressure is persistently elevated.

There is some evidence to suggest that people who sleep less than five hours each night could be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure. There’s also an elevated risk of high blood pressure for people who sleep between five and six hours each night.

It’s thought that the link between sleep and blood pressure stems from the hormone regulation that occurs during sleep. One particular study found that even partial sleep deprivation could increase the presence of the stress hormone cortisol in subjects by up to 45%. Persistently elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol have been linked with increased risk of high blood pressure.

A top health benefit of getting a good night’s sleep is the better regulation of hormone levels in your body and thus the reduced risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure.

5. Sleep Can Help Improve Memory

If you’ve ever noticed that when you’re really tired it’s hard to remember things and collect your thoughts, then you’re not alone. Research suggests that whilst we sleep our mind is busy consolidating our memories.

Some research has shown strong links between getting a good night’s sleep and the ability to recall, interpret and learn from experiences. Although much more research is needed, it’s currently believed that adequate sleep is very important to both memory retention and learning.

6. Sleep Can Boost Physical Performance

Ensuring that you consistently get a good night’s sleep can boost your physical performance. Sleep has been shown to have a positive effect on speed, accuracy, and reaction time.

Without a good night’s sleep you may notice that you are not able to think clearly or react as quickly during physical activity. You may also be more sensitive, moody, or irritable which can affect how you interact with others.

A good night’s sleep is also essential for your body to heal and recover from past physical activity. Consistent inadequate sleep can increase your risk of getting injured and developing infection due to both poor recovery and a weakened immune system.

7. Sleep can boost Your Immune System

A good night’s sleep plays an essential role in maintaining a strong immune system, enabling you to resist illness and recover more quickly from infection.

During sleep our immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are needed when we have an infection or inflammation. Sleep deprivation can decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies reduce during periods of sleep deprivation making us more vulnerable to illness and infection.

You can access full details of the medical evidence around the relationship between sleep and the immune system here.

8. Sleep can Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Some studies suggest that not getting enough sleep could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that involves too much glucose (sugar) in the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.

It is believed that the link may stem from the hormone regulation that occurs during sleep. As sleep deprivation inhibits this hormone regulation, less insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) is naturally released in the body.

At the same time the body releases more stress hormones (such as cortisol), which helps you stay awake but can also make it more difficult for the insulin to do its job. As a result too much glucose stays in the bloodstream, which can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

9. Sleeping helps Protect Your Heart

Sleep can play an essential role in maintaining a healthy heart. Some research suggests that people who don’t sleep enough may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to reduce these risk factors.

More research is needed but it’s believed that a lack of sleep can disrupt the body’s natural processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation. The same may be equally true for oversleeping.

10. Sleep Can Boost Cognitive Function

Cognitive function is brain function and includes things like memory, attention, and reasoning.

Evidence suggests that a good night’s sleep plays a vital role in our ability to think clearly, recollect information and make sound decisions. When we do not get adequate sleep, it can impair our cognitive function and ultimately impact on our performance in school, work and everywhere else.

Next time you have an important decision to make, don’t just “sleep on it”, get a great night’s sleep and you may be more likely to make the right decision.

Conclusion

Personally I believe that sleep is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind and hopefully in this article I’ve convinced you too.

I hope you have found this article useful and if you have fallen asleep whilst reading, I promise that I won’t be offended. Sleep well and when you wake you can check out our other interesting health and fitness articles here.

Thank you for reading. Share what you think by commenting below and please like and share. 

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