Why Sleep Is Essential for a Healthy Life
Lack of sleep can have a profound effect on your mental clarity and emotional well-being, as well as how well you perform at work or school.
Your body has a natural rhythm that controls how long and well you sleep. In order to stay healthy, it is important to adhere to this schedule.
1. It Recharges Your Brain
Scientists have long puzzled over the role of sleep in health and disease. But modern research is providing us with new insights into what sleep does for our bodies and minds.
One way sleep can help you stay healthy is by reducing damage caused by free radicals, which form when your body metabolizes oxygen. These free radicals attach themselves to brain cells and other molecules within the body, creating irreversible damage.
Another way that sleep can benefit you is by flushing out toxins that build up during the day. As your brain’s glymphatic system functions like a garbage disposal during sleep, it eliminates cellular waste byproducts that may have built up in interstitial spaces or within brain cells throughout the day.
When you sleep, your body cycles through four distinct stages of deepening sleep – each deeper than the last. On average, this happens three to five times per night and approximately 25% of your total REM time (REM sleep) is spent in REM, associated with vivid dreaming.
NREM sleep occurs when brain activity slows to a crawl and you have the opportunity to turn off some neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine – chemicals which help you feel calm and relaxed.
Your brain also makes connections during sleep that link the information you experience to memories. This helps you recall things important to you, such as events and feelings.
While sleeping, your brain works to rearrange and repair its neurons. This allows it to function more efficiently, enabling it to remember and learn new information more easily.
Sleep has been proven to improve memory, cognitive function and emotional well-being. It may also prevent and treat mood disorders like anxiety or depression. If you struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up feeling fatigued during the day, speak with your doctor about taking steps to get more rest.
2. It Helps You Stay Healthy
Sleep is essential for good health and wellness. Not only does it promote weight loss, but it also keeps your body functioning optimally.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, the consequences could be far-reaching; from heart disease and obesity to depression. All of these issues stem from not getting enough rest and high levels of stress caused by not enough shut-eye.
Good news: you can help your body get the rest it needs to stay healthy by taking a few simple steps. The first one involves understanding how much sleep you actually require.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, your body requires seven to eight hours of rest each night. Additionally, it’s essential that you maintain a consistent schedule so your body knows when it can expect rest and when to engage in activity.
In addition to giving your body time to heal and repair damage, sleeping also strengthens your immune system. That is because while you sleep, the body produces cytokines – proteins that fight infection.
Sleep can also enhance memory and the capacity to learn new things. A study published in Behavioral Neuroscience discovered that subjects who experienced stage one sleep for 15 seconds before being presented with math problems were better able to solve those problems than those without.
Sleeping well can improve your mood and energy level. It also has been known to lower blood pressure and assist with managing stress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who do not get enough sleep are at greater risk for serious illnesses like heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, they have an increased chance of being involved in car accidents or workplace injuries.
3. It Helps You Recover From Injury
Sleep has many advantages, but one of the most significant is its capacity to aid recovery from injury. It helps repair damaged tissues, muscles and bones in your body by stimulating new cell growth and repair hormones.
Your brain releases growth hormones during deep sleep, aiding muscle repair and rebuilding while clearing away waste from the day.
Sleep not only aids these processes, but it also boosts your immunity against illnesses and viruses. Studies have revealed that adequate sleep is essential for health and may even reduce the risk of certain diseases like cancer.
At a minimum, you should get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night; more if you are injured or sick. Without adequate rest, inflammation may set in, making recovery more challenging and raising the likelihood of future injuries.
When your body experiences an injury, it sends proteins and antibodies to protect the affected area in order to provide protection. This may manifest as swelling, redness and pain in the affected area.
But if you don’t get enough sleep, inflammation can spread and create further issues with your system. Prolactin, a hormone most prevalent during sleep, helps control inflammation within the body.
Sleep can also aid in recovery from injury by decreasing cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol, a hormone produced when under stress, slows down tissue regeneration and cell renewal.
Sleeping properly can reduce cortisol levels, enabling your body to use growth hormones more effectively during recovery. This will expedite healing time and prevent injury recurrences.
Sleep can also help manage stress, which in turn speeds up recovery time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to slow down before bed and take some time out to unwind before drifting off.
No matter your age, getting enough rest each night is essential to ensure a full recovery from injuries and other ailments. Following these tips can help ensure the most successful possible healing process.
4. It Helps You Manage Stress
The sleep-wake cycle is a delicate balance that determines when you should be awake and when you should go to bed. Stress can disrupt this rhythm, leaving you more tired during the day which in turn makes it harder to get adequate rest at night.
Sleep deprivation can have serious health repercussions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and even depression. On the plus side, getting enough rest each night helps you reduce stress levels and allow you to recover more quickly from stressful experiences.
People who lack adequate sleep often report feeling sluggish or fatigued, irritable, and having difficulty concentrating. Furthermore, they report being less likely to be friendly or helpful towards others and having no motivation to complete tasks on time.
According to a 2018 survey, 40% of adults reported not getting the recommended amount of sleep. This trend is especially prevalent among younger Americans who tend to report fewer hours of rest per night than older people on average.
Younger individuals tend to struggle more with sleeping goals and feel stressed due to lack of shut-eye (Millennials: 29 percent; Gen Xers: 23 percent). Furthermore, they’re more susceptible to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
Chronic stress can cause sleep issues, including insomnia. This is because stressors disrupt the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” response which causes elevated heart rates and rapid breathing.
Additionally, stress can reduce the amount of deep and rapid eye movement sleep you get each night, which is essential for physical and mental well-being.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to address any stressors before bed. Additionally, doing some relaxation exercises can help relax both your body and mind before going to bed.
Establish a regular time for going to bed and make your bedroom noiseless and comfortable. Doing this will help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night.
You may use a stress reduction technique such as meditation to manage your anxiety. If you experience frequent or intense stress, speaking with a professional counselor or therapist may help identify and manage the underlying causes more efficiently.