We all know that sleep plays a major role in our well-being. Doctors recommend you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night to wake up fully rested, energized, and focused on achieving your goals for the day.
So, why is it important we get familiar with the benefits of sleep? Knowledge of this can help you prioritize this part of your lifestyle more than any other.
Here’s everything you need to know about why you tuck yourself into bed every night, some lesser-known benefits of sleep, and a couple of tips that might help you out with getting better rest each night.
So, why exactly is sleep the key to staying healthy? A good sleep hygiene routine has positive effects on nearly every sphere of our lives, from how you perform at work to the quality of your relationships.
Most experts recommend seven to eight hours of sleep each night for you to be able to reap the full benefits of resting up. From something as simple as improving your memory to something as serious as extending the length of your life, it pays to take the importance of sleep seriously.
Sleep deprivation is a common condition in America, where one in every three people report some experience with the disorder. If you find yourself chronically getting less than five hours of sleep every night, you might be damaging more than just your sleep cycle.
Some side effects of sleep deprivation include poor skin, increased susceptibility to illnesses such as heart attacks and diabetes, and brain fog. Prioritizing those eight hours of sleep each night is necessary when you’re trying to stay as healthy and sharp as you can.
We’re all familiar with the more common benefits of sleep - higher levels of energy, better focus, and being well-rested to name a few. While these perks should convince you to start making time to rest properly, there are a couple of other benefits of sleep that are worth getting to know if you’re looking for some motivation.
Here are some of the more surprising benefits of sleep you may not know:
One of the most important functions your brain has is to make and link memories, and REM sleep is a vital part of this process. The benefits of sleep related to memory consolidation have been widely documented. When you’re asleep and dreaming, your brain begins to process and consolidate all your experiences from the day. Some scientists have explained this one step further.
According to sleep scientist Matt Walker, ‘we're now learning that sleep is much more intelligent than we ever imagined. Sleep doesn't just simply strengthen individual memories, sleep will actually cleverly interconnect new memories together’. This means sleep won’t just help you keep new memories, but also link them to old ones, which helps you learn faster and more complexly.
Another way sleep is crucial to your well-being is by acting as a mood regulator. If you find it difficult to regulate the highs and lows of your emotions, there’s a chance catching up on your snooze time might help.
In fact, according to research published by Harvard Medical School, ‘insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression’. Sleep deprivation is also a common symptom for disorders such as anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Staying on top of your bedtime routine and keeping your sleep cycle in check can help you stabilize and regulate your emotions.
You can seek inspiration from many places, and it turns out sleep is one of them. Scientists at Cardiff University in England have found that your sleep cycle plays an integral role in getting creative with problem-solving. One of the more unexpected benefits of sleep, more research is going into the mechanisms of how this actually works.
Getting a sufficient amount of both REM and NREM sleep has been shown to produce better and less conventional approaches to logical problems. If you’re stuck on a project that requires some creative thinking, your best bet might just be to sleep on it.
Have you ever wanted to burn calories without moving? Turns out that might just be possible. One of the most unexpected benefits of sleep is weight regulation. At the University of Chicago, researchers found that dieting participants who were getting irregular amounts of sleep actually found it harder to shed the pounds than those who did not.
The reason behind this is actually pretty interesting - it turns out your sleep and metabolism are regulated by the same part of your brain. That means when you’re sleepy, you’re also naturally going to feel hungrier since these hormones are interrelated. To stay a healthy weight, you’re going to want to ensure you rest up.
A lack of sleep can not only cause sluggishness in the morning, but it can also leave you with raised blood pressure, which can lead to hypertension and even heart attacks. One study in 2019 showed sleep deprivation can also result in atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of heart disease in the United States today.
A healthy sleep routine helps your heart rest and recover from strain. During NREM sleep, your blood pressure actually drops, allowing your heart to recuperate from a day’s work. Ensuring you get eight hours of rest is therefore as important for your heart as it is for your brain.
Another one of the least expected benefits of sleep? Better performance out on the field. Sleeping on your back might seem to have nothing to do with physical stamina, but researchers at Stanford University set out to prove exactly how eight hours of sleep could improve performance for athletes.
In their study, they found that college football players who slept ten hours a night actually improved their average sprint time, and felt better rested throughout their day. Students also reported higher levels of mental well-being, which can be equally important for your performance as an athlete.
Finally, one of the more recently emerging benefits of sleep that might surprise you is pain relief. At the University of California, researchers found inadequate sleep actually heightens experiences of discomfort and pain.
A good night’s sleep can act as a substitute for painkillers, and in fact, helps build resilience and tolerance towards discomfort. The phrase ‘you’ll feel better after you go to bed’ is no joke - as research indicates, you physically will.
The importance of sleep in achieving your wellness goals for the year cannot be understated. But getting those eight hours each night can seem deceptively simple to achieve.
Many Americans struggle to get the rest they need, and if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed each night, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, a little more than 35% of adults don’t get the required amounts of sleep each night.
Once you get familiar with the many benefits of sleep, you’ll learn to prioritize those eight hours naturally. There are a few different ways to do so:
It’s no wonder so many doctors and experts alike recommend getting a good night’s sleep when you’re under duress. The health benefits of sleep alone should be enough reasons for you to prioritize and evaluate your relationship with rest.
A good night’s sleep won’t just help you stay physically fit - it will also aid you in growing and developing as a person. Whether it’s by investing in the best mattress you can, or simply by coming up with a bedtime routine, there are plenty of ways to start working on your sleep routine, and once you do, the results will truly surprise you.
Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.