We all know that sleep is essential for our health, but do you know its benefits?
The fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st century means that many of us end up running on excessive amounts of caffeine and just a few hours of sleep. However, the World Health Organisation recommends that adults should have between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Artificial energy from caffeine is a short-term fix to long-term problem whilst having less than 7 hours a sleep at night can increase the risk of health complications later in life.
Here’s what a good night’s sleep actually does to your body:
- Boosts immune system
Whilst asleep, your immune cells and proteins are also resting. These cells and proteins are vital for fighting infections, bacteria and even the common cold. Healthy sleeping habits supports the release of cytokines. Chances are you’ve never heard of cytokines, but these proteins are incredibly smart as they activate your bodies immunological memory. This ‘memory’ allows your immune system to recognise when you’re experiencing an illness that you’ve already encountered. This means that your body can fight off the illness even quicker than last time.
Essentially, sleep boosts your immune system by giving your cells and proteins a well-deserved rest. Well rested proteins and cells fight off illness’ and prevent you from getting ill.
- Improves mood
The saying ‘Getting up on the wrong side of the bed’ is not a complete myth. The quality and length of your sleep can determine how well your day unfolds. If you’re well rested and prepared for the day ahead, you’re able to better control your emotions and focus on feelings of happiness. However, tiredness and exhaustion can result in irritability, anger, and feelings of sadness. Those who have an adequate sleep are more likely to live a happier and healthier life
An uninterrupted and peaceful night’s sleep is one of the best ways to improve your mood – so it’s worth putting the effort into getting enough shut-eye at night.
- Increases productivity and concentration
A good night’s sleep increases productivity and concentration. When you don’t receive enough sleep, this negatively affects the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain which promotes creativity, innovation and decision making. Whilst you sleep, your brain stores new information and produces pathways for improved learning and problem-solving skills. Therefore, when you don’t sleep, you’re essentially diminishing your own potential.
Finding it difficult to generate new ideas, taking longer to complete tasks, and struggling to stay focused at work are all symptoms of sleep deprivation. By establishing a healthier sleeping pattern, you’re able to become a better worker and a more positive person.
- Enriched memory
When we don’t receive enough sleep, our memory can become impaired. Although our body is resting when we sleep, our brain is still very much awake as its storing, organising, and processing memories. A good night’s sleep can improve your memory as it allows your brain to consolidate your memories from the previous day and store them in your long-term memory. Without adequate sleep, you may lose memories, or even create false ones.
If you’re struggling to remember tasks you’ve completed throughout the day, or if your memories seem to be jumbled – try working on your sleeping pattern.
- Reduces stress levels
Sleep can combat stress through regulating your mood and decreasing cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that stimulates alertness and feelings of stress. As we begin to wind-down at the end of the day, cortisol is replaced with melatonin. This enables the sensation of tiredness and alerts us when we need to sleep. Although you may still experience stress, when you’re fully rested, you’re able to tackle and experience it in a much more positive and healthier way.
Of course, acute feelings of stress can sometimes be useful for motivation and encouragement, but when stress becomes overwhelming it can hinder our progress. 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night can reduce stress through mood regulation and being able to ‘switch off’ at the end of each day.
- Keeps you fit
So, by now you’ve probably released that sleep benefits many factors of your life, but did you know that a good sleeping pattern is just as important as a balanced diet and physical activity in terms of keeping yourself fit? A lack of sleep can lead to the dysregulation of hunger, resulting in weight-gain. Whilst you should always listen to your body, a positive sleeping pattern can significantly impact your hunger-levels and aid in a healthy weight-loss.
A good night’s sleep can boost your metabolism, maintain a healthy blood pressure, keep you fitter, healthier, and happier. When you are well-rested, you’re able to perform at the best of your ability.
Ultimately, sleep impacts all aspects of life. To achieve all the benefits that sleep can offer, prioritise your sleeping pattern and aim for between 7 and 9 hours of shut eye a night.