Why is sleep important? High-quality sleep makes you feel better and think clearer, but it’s also vital to physical health. People who get enough sleep are at a lower risk of chronic illness and can even fight off infections better than those who experience sleep disturbances.
Improving your sleep quality through better sleep products and sleep hygiene habits can help protect your health. Just like diet and exercise, healthy sleep should be part of your wellness routine. Below are ten good reasons to prioritize rest and improve your sleep quality.
1. Helps Manage Weight
Does lack of sleep cause weight gain? People who sleep better tend to have lower rates of obesity. Numerous studies have found that people who experience ongoing sleep disturbances, including short sleep duration, are more likely to gain weight. One study found this association to be particularly strong in younger people.
While researchers are still trying to determine the connection between lack of sleep and weight gain, current evidence suggests it may have to do with hormones. The body and brain use sleep as a time to regulate hormones and neurotransmitters, which are vital messengers the body needs for certain functions, including metabolism.
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who get four hours of sleep or less per night may experience an increase in ghrelin and leptin 一 two neurotransmitters related to appetite. Ghrelin is what helps make you feel hungry, while leptin is what helps make you feel full. If either of these chemicals is out of balance, it can lead you to eat more food than you need. Therefore, people who sleep less may feel hungrier and eat more, leading to weight gain.
2. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Good quality sleep is linked to better heart health. During sleep, the body enters into a state of repair and restoration. Both breathing and heart rate slow down, and blood pressure decreases. This rest period alleviates strain from the heart, which accumulates during the day while we’re under stress.
When people don’t spend enough time in deep sleep, or their deep sleep gets interrupted frequently, their heart can't recover from stress adequately. Lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol, which leads to heart disease and stroke.
There is also evidence that there is a link between too much sleep and heart disease. Studies show that getting either too much or too little sleep can increase heart disease mortality rates by 40-50%. Using a fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can help you measure the amount of sleep you’re getting. This will allow you to make changes to your sleep hygiene to ensure you’re always getting the right amount of sleep, which is between 7 and 9 hours for adults.
3. Lowers Risk of Diabetes
Sleep is also a preventer of diabetes. Research shows that sleep directly affects insulin sensitivity. People who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night are at an increased risk of type two diabetes.
One potential reason for the link between sleep and diabetes is that sleep deprivation keeps you in a stress response, which increases your cortisol levels. Chronically elevated cortisol levels increase insulin resistance. Over time, consistently poor sleep can put people at risk of type two diabetes. Even a single night of sleep deprivation can impact blood glucose levels.
The link between diabetes and sleep deprivation is bidirectional. Research shows that diabetes and insomnia have a strong connection; people with untreated diabetes are more likely to experience sleep disturbances. Ending the cycle of poor sleep can help people with prediabetes or type two diabetes manage the condition.
4. Moderates Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal process the body uses to temporarily defend against illness and injury. However, when the body keeps itself in a state of inflammation even after a threat has passed, it can increase the risk of disease.
Sleep loss or poor sleep and inflammation have been shown to influence each other. Since the body uses sleep to slow down and reduce stress on the body, interruptions to sleep can keep inflammation levels high.
Poor sleep is particularly linked to gut inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel disease. One study found that Crohn’s disease patients who sleep poorly are more likely to experience a flare-up than patients who sleep well.
5. Improves Concentration
Another reason why it’s important to invest in good quality sleep is because of how it affects cognitive function. One of the most important roles of sleep is in thinking, learning and memory. During sleep, the brain consolidates memory by sifting through new information and deciding what to retain and how. For this reason, poor sleeping and memory loss are directly related. Sleep directly affects our ability to remember and recall information.
A lack of sleep makes it much more difficult to remember information and concentrate for extended periods一especially when we’re trying to learn new information. Fatigue and drowsiness affect attention skills and hinder information processing. Some research shows that sleep deprivation impairs concentration to a similar degree as alcohol impairment does.
Getting enough high-quality sleep can help keep your focus sharp and can prevent the risk of cognitive decline later in life.
6. Alleviates Stress
Lack of sleep and stress are deeply linked. Stress keeps you alert, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. On the other hand, lack of sleep can cause stress. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can cause you to worry about your health and performance, increasing stress levels.
According to Harvard researchers who studied how sleep affects stress, a chronic lack of sleep can lead to stress-related disorders, including anxiety and depression. Since one of the main functions of sleep is to rest the mind and body, a lack of sleep prevents us from fully relaxing throughout the night. This can impair our ability to get enough deep sleep, which is the most restorative stage of sleep needed to counter the effects of stress on the body.
If you frequently lie awake at night unable to fall asleep due to stress, you are not alone. Finding ways to relax before bed can help encourage deeper and better quality sleep.
7. Maintains Positive Mood
In addition to preventing stress, anxiety and depression, good sleep can help you boost your mood. Research shows that your sleep the previous night is a reliable predictor of your mood the following day. People who report getting high-quality and uninterrupted sleep are more likely to also report more positive feelings the following day.
Additional studies on sleep and mood have found that having your sleep interrupted during the night is more likely to disrupt your mood the next day than if you just went to bed later. This means that having a hard time staying asleep may have a bigger impact on your next-day mood than just a general lack of sleep.
One way to prevent being woken up at night is to keep your bedroom free from distractions, such as lights and sounds. Additionally, you’ll want to control your bedroom temperature so you don’t wake up too hot or too cold during the night.
8. Improves Social Well-Being
In addition to affecting your mood and focus, poor sleep quality may also impact your ability to interact with others. Specifically, studies have looked at the mental effects of sleep deprivation, namely how it affects our ability to recognize emotion in other people’s facial expressions.
Findings consistently show that sleepiness is correlated with an impaired ability to identify other people’s facial reactions and expressed emotions. One group of researchers found that sleep-deprived participants had a harder time distinguishing between happy and angry facial expressions.
Other studies have looked at how sleep deprivation affects empathy. One small study found that emotional empathy was significantly lower in people who were sleep-deprived compared to those who had had a good sleep.
9. Boosts Immune Function
Getting enough sleep is crucial to your physical health and ability to fight off illness. Studies on sleep and the immune system show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to viral infections. Poor sleep quality can also affect your ability to recover from illness and injury, taking longer to repair and heal.
During sleep, your body releases immune proteins called cytokines, which repair your body while it’s resting. Additionally, sleep is also necessary for helping your body produce T cells, which are immune cells needed to fight infection and disease.
The immune system is incredibly complex. When immune cells are either overactive or underactive, it can make us more susceptible to sickness. Consistent, high-quality sleep helps keep the immune system in balance.
10. Enhances Athletic Performance
Athletes know the value of a good night’s sleep. Studies show that getting more sleep is linked to improved performance: sleep and strength have a strong relationship.
One study found that male basketball players who extended their sleep to 10 hours per night experienced faster sprint times and better shooting accuracy. Similar findings were shown in swimmers who increased their nightly sleep time to 10 hours per night. These athletes were able to swim faster and with more powerful strokes.
Sleep helps your body repair and build muscle while improving your concentration and reaction time. Whether you play a sport for a living or you just want to be able to improve your ability to exercise or lift weights, sleep can help you take your physical performance to the next level.
Shop Ergonomic Sleep Solutions at Relax The Back
The importance of sleep for physical and mental well-being is undeniable. Unfortunately, many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. Adopting better sleep hygiene habits and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help you increase your sleep quality each night and increase deep sleep.
In addition to developing better sleep habits, adults can invest in high-quality ergonomic sleep products to help improve sleep quality. Tempur-Pedic mattresses and bed frames, ergonomic pillows, bed linens and accessories help you achieve the ideal sleep system for deep rest and improved health. Shop Relax The Back’s sleep collection online today.