Why Sleep is Good for Your Health

Some days there might be so much you want to get done. On those days you may wish you could spend the day’s full twenty-four hours doing whatever you need to do. You may even wish there were extra hours in the day. Since it is impossible to have longer day, you may decide to forgo or cut your sleep a bit short on any given day. However, this is not something smart to do for multiple days. That is because lack of sleep is terrible for your health as well as your performance.

Even though you think you are increasing your productivity by decreasing your sleep, you might actually be more productive if you took a snooze when you felt tired. On the other extreme, too much sleep can also be bad. But in our current society, sleeping too little is often the more common problem. To ensure you don’t cut short your sleep, or overly indulge, it is important to understand why sleep is good for your health.

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Sleep is Good for Your Health Because It Helps You Think Clearer

You have probably noticed that when you are tired, you are less able to process the information that you are working on. If you are studying, the words start blurring things together. Your brain starts to drift. You might also have to reread things a few times because you notice that you were not comprehending what you were reading. If you are trying to finish work, you might notice that you are simply not able to make any meaningful progress when you are too tired.

What about coffee? That would help ward of the tiredness, right? To some extent this is true. Sometimes coffee will in fact give you that boost of energy and concentration that you need. It might help you get through the last chapter you need to tackle. However, sometimes coffee does not make the matter any better. It might just make you anxious and give you palpitations without necessarily increasing your productivity.

Additionally, if you don’t get enough rest, chances are you will wake up tired the next day. Or if you are not tired the next day, you will likely feel tired the day after that.  You will feel less excited and full of energy than you would if you had gotten a good night’s sleep.

This means that lack of sleep might negatively affect your personality and decisions. For this reason, it is no wonder that sleep is important to our psychological well-being. After all, if people don’t sleep for a prolong period of time, they will start to hallucinate. Lab tests show that living organisms will eventually die if they are deprived from sleep long enough.

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Sleep is Good for Your Health Because It Helps Your Body Recover

After a day hard at work, your body needs to recover. In fact, this is the reason most trainers will tell you how important it is to get a good night’s rest after a hard work out. It is during sleep that your body activates the processes that help your muscles heal and become stronger.

On the other hand, if you do not get adequate rest, your body may actually become weaker. It will not have the opportunity to heal itself and can start to waste away. This is true especially if this happens repeatedly. With repeated abuse, it will function sub-optimally and become more susceptible to disease.

As with everything in the body, there is a need for homeostasis. The brain normally has mechanisms that causes it to become sleepy at a certain point each day. While the mechanism of sleep is not fully understood, what is definite is that sleep, and the processes that occur during sleep, are important for the brain and body to function optimally.

While asleep, the brain processes emotions and gets rid of chemicals that build up in it during the day. If the brain and body do not get sufficient sleep, they lose balance. The hormones, metabolisms, temperature fluctuation and other processes that normally happen while we sleep are interrupted.

One very important mechanism, for example, that seems to be affected is the body’s ability to process food. This can in turn make your more prone to developing diabetes and cause you to feel hungrier during the day. Of course, the simple fact that you are tired will make you less likely to exercise as regularly as you would if you got a good night’s rest. And being tired all the time will in turn make you more prone to depression and anxiety.

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Sleep is Good for Your Health Because It Helps Your Immune System

People who do not get sufficient sleep are more prone to developing colds and infections. This may have to do with the fact that sleep has an important impact on the body’s regulation of cytokines, its primary immune messengers, as well as its various stress hormones.  If these rejuvenating processes that occur during sleep are disrupted long term, you are more prone to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.

While the problem in our society is more often than not that we get too little sleep, it should be noted that too much sleep is also bad.  Interestingly, getting too much sleep will also disrupt the healing properties of sleep to s similar degree as getting too little sleep. In fact, people who sleep more than 10 hours a day are at increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

Regardless of whether you get too much of too little sleep, one thing leads to another. And the longer things go unchecked, the harder it becomes to break and reverse the cycle. Preventing illness through good practices is usually the easiest and smartest approach.

For this reason, you want to make sure that you sleep between 7 and 9 hours each day. Do yourself a favor and do not make it a habit of sleeping more or less than this amount. If you have difficulty make sure you have good sleep hygiene. Having good sleep hygiene means taking steps to facilitate getting an adequate amount and quality of sleep each night.

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Good Sleep Hygiene

In order to establish good sleep hygiene, it helps if you plan your sleep schedule in advance. Ideally you should go to bed and wake up each day on a consistent schedule. You should plan to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day.

In order to make sure that you fall asleep, you want to make sure that you are getting sufficient exercise during the day. This will increase the chances that you will feel tired at night. However, try not exercise immediately before going to bed as it might make it harder to fall asleep.

You also want to make sure you are not taking naps during the days, especially later in the day. Doing so will make you less sleepy at night time. It is more important to get a good night sleep since only longer sleep durations will ensure you go through all sleep stages.

You also want to avoid taking substances that might interfere with your sleep. These include things like alcohol, nicotine, and coffee. In fact, even eating large meals before bed might interfere with your sleep.

If you like watching television, or browsing your phone of computer prior to going to sleep, you might want to get blue light filters. This is because the light emitted by these devices interfere with your sleep. The blue light filter will prevent the light from interfering with your sleep.

If you still have trouble falling asleep, you might want to put relaxing music or a dim light. Taking low dose melatonin might also assist you. Establishing a nightly routine, such as brushing your teeth, watching your face, ensuring that you have a comfortable room temperature, and making a to-do list for the next day, will also assist you in falling asleep quicker.

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Conclusion

Technology has given us the ability to remain productive and entertained at any time of day. However, just because we have the ability to do this, does not mean that it is okay to sacrifice sleep for productivity or entertainment. After all, our body and brains require the rejuvenating effects of sleep to function optimally.

Instead of thinking of sleep as a less important part of the day, you should make sure that you treat it as an indispensable part of your day. Not only does sleep help you think more clearly, but it also helps your body heal and keep our immune system and stress hormones in balance. In the right amounts, it has a protective effect against obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Once you understand why sleep is good for your health, you will understand that getting an adequate amount of sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and exercise. You should be diligent about establishing patterns that ensure a good quality and amount of sleep by practicing good. That is, you should practice good sleep hygiene.

Practicing good sleep hygiene will actually increase your productivity in the long run. You will be better able to accomplish your goals and maintain a level of energy with which you are satisfied. Plus, you will know that your body is getting a healthy amount of rest. In that way, you will feel good that you are taking good care of your body.

References

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21112024/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21852576/
https://aacnjournals.org/ccnonline/article/32/2/e19/20424/Sleep-and-Immune-Function
https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/dreaming-in-the-digital-age/201412/why-sleep-deprivation-is-torture

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