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Why Is Sleep Important? The Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

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getting enough sleepOne in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep usually means clocking between seven and nine hours, depending on your age, activity levels, and what feels right for your body.

Whether it’s insomnia, boredom, a snoring partner, staying on screens too late, or an unwillingness to go to bed, many people don’t get enough sleep. Most adults average 6.8 hours of sleep, which isn’t enough. 

The benefits of sleep seem apparent. You’ll be more alert, less cranky, and have better problem-solving skills. The benefits of getting enough sleep go far beyond that, though. 

Here are ten health benefits of sleep to convince you!

1. It Improves Your Athletic Performance 

Why is sleep important? It helps your body perform at peak levels! Being a good athlete involves strength, good lung capacity, a healthy heart, stamina, short reaction times, and mental acuity. 

Sleep helps improve all of those things. Studies show that poor sleep can manifest at a slow pace, limited grip strength, reduced accuracy, and overall shoddy performance. 

When you’re fast asleep, your body uses this time to perform muscle repair. If you’re lifting weights, or if you’ve injured yourself, this is when recovery occurs! If you don’t sleep enough, your body has a shorter window to work with. 

This will limit your recovery time, which will impact your performance long-term. 

2. Stress Affects Your Heart

Why is sleep so important? It helps reduce stress, which can cause chronically raised blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels. These factors all lead to heart attacks. 

Stress is an emotional state, but it’s also a physical one. When your body loses sleep consistently, it activates a state of physical stress. This means your body is on red alert, trying to survive this state of deprivation. 

This can become a vicious cycle. A lack of sleep causes stress. However, those stress hormones can make it difficult to fall asleep, which puts you in a constant state of sleep deprivation. 

3. Control Your Weight 

One of the benefits of good sleep involves maintaining your waistline. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re low on energy. If you don’t have the energy to complete basic tasks, you certainly won’t have the energy to go to the gym. 

Even a walk around the block might seem like too much. If this becomes a habit, moving your body enough to stay healthy won’t happen. 

There’s also a hormonal reason since two main hormones control your appetite. They’re called leptin and ghrelin. When you’re low on sleep, your appetite hormones are imbalanced. 

Your appetite will start running wild. Salad or ice cream? Being sleep-deprived sounds like a recipe for an ice cream binge. 

4. Sharpen Your Brain 

You might still be asking: Why do I need better sleep? Imagine being able to remember everything that you want to!

If you’re always turning back for your phone, or scrambling for your keys in the morning, or putting too many notes in your phone because you know you won’t remember, you might need better sleep. 

Sleep is the time when your brain processes and catalogs memories. If your brain doesn’t have time to do that, it constantly scrambles. At the end of the day, sleep helps improve memory processing. 

5. Bolster Your Immune System 

“Get plenty of rest” isn’t just advice your grandma gave you to fight a cold. It’s actually true!

While you’re sleeping, your body creates extra protein molecules called cytokines. These molecules help you fight off infections, which can keep you from getting sick when you otherwise might have. Getting enough sleep helps keep your immune system strong.

6. Avoid Conflict

It happens to the best of us: When we’re overly tired, we often snap or react more drastically than we would on a good night’s sleep. 

If it happens once in a blue moon, it’s often not a big deal. If it’s a habit, it can make you miserable to be around! It can impact you personally and professionally, too. 

When you sleep well, your body is able to process and regulate emotion much better. 

7. Reduce Inflammation 

Another one of the health benefits of sleep involves inflammation. It can lead to the body’s slow deterioration, which mimics what happens in old age. 

For instance, there’s a strong link between inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, and poor sleep. 

Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.

In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Over 90% of people with depression also suffer from poor sleep as well. 

8. Lower Your Risk of Diabetes 

You might be asking: How much sleep do I need? Seven to nine hours, on a consistent basis, is enough to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Poor sleep can negatively affect blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is bad news for diabetics. 

9. The New Painkiller

If you’re wary of using painkillers, even if it’s just ibuprofen, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s a natural painkiller. It’s sleep!

If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, your pain threshold may be lower. This will cause you to experience pain more dramatically than you otherwise would. 

10. Help Prevent Cancer

Experts have discovered that melatonin helps suppress tumor growth. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep and waking cycles. 

Your brain produces melatonin during your sleep, which helps prevent cancer. 

Consider Sleep Apnea

You might be trying to reap the benefits of sleep and do everything right. If you’ve tried everything, consider that you might be dealing with sleep apnea. 

Symptoms include waking up exhausted, headaches, snoring, and gasping during sleep. However, getting tested in a sleep lab might be too inconvenient. Luckily, you can take an at-home test.

If you’d like to learn more about sleep apnea, check out our blog! If you’re experiencing symptoms, you can see if you’re genetically predisposed to suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, apnea can prevent you from experiencing sleep benefits. 

The Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

From lowering your risk of diabetes, preventing cancer, and improving cognitive function, good sleep is important. By getting 7-8 hours in a night, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your health and mood. 

There are plenty of resources available for you to find out more so you can sleep soundly again.

  • Merritt Wakefield

    Merritt Wakefield is a writer and researcher committed to helping people with CPAP learn about sleep apnea and the various benefits and features of sleep therapy and CPAP products.

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