Explore the importance of sleep as it relates to your health and well-being.
“I’m so tired—I didn’t get much sleep last night.” How many times have you heard (or said) a sentence like that? Despite the importance of sleep, more than one in three adults in the U.S. may not be getting enough of it. The CDC recommends sleeping at least seven hours per night for optimal health—any less than that can raise the risk for certain chronic health conditions. Experts also point out that consistency matters too; getting three hours one night and “making up” for it with ten the next can confuse your body clock. To help optimize your well-being, we’re exploring some of the health benefits of consistent sleep that make a compelling argument for spending more quality time with your pillow.
- More energy
- Sharper mind
- Strengthened immune system
- Healthier heart
- Weight control
Learn more about these health benefits of consistent sleep below.
1. More energy
The link between sleep and energy is as well-established as water quenching thirst. If you feel tired and lethargic during the day, look first at your sleep habits. Even if you’re getting 7 hours, it may not be enough for you—many people find that they need more to feel truly rested and awake for the day. A good test is a 3-day sleep reset (best done on a long weekend) where you turn off the alarm clock and see how long your body will sleep naturally and how your energy levels feel. Once you determine that, you can try implementing a sleep schedule that allows you to get those hours every night.
2. Sharper mind
Sleep has a significant impact on your daily brain functions like focus and memory. If you find yourself often “zoning out” or forgetting things throughout the day, it might be rooted in your resting habits at night. Getting consistent sleep enables your brain to build and maintain the pathways it needs to learn, remember, and respond.
Looking for more ways to sharpen your mind? Check out these memory games and puzzles for seniors.
3. Strengthened immune system
Who would say no to stronger immunity? You can help make that a reality just by hitting the hay earlier. The key to this health benefit of consistent sleep lies in your immune system’s “T cells,” which are responsible for detecting and fighting off infections. Researchers found that T cells functioned better in rested study participants than in those who skipped a night of sleep. And we’re not just talking the common cold here—the importance of sleep for immunity can go as far as determining how well your body is protected against more serious diseases like cancer.
Find out more on the link between lack of sleep and immune health.
4. Healthier heart
Keeping regular sleep hours is also associated with good heart health. This link may be because of a connection between your circadian rhythm and cardiovascular system. The exact science behind it is somewhat of a mystery, but the importance of sleep for heart health is quite evident in the clear correlation between lack of sleep and higher risk of heart disease.
For more ways to make your ticker happy, check out these heart-healthy foods you’ll love.
5. Weight control
So many things are interconnected in human biology: the circadian rhythm can affect not just sleep, but your hormones and eating habits as well. Two of the specific hormones at play are ghrelin (which signals hunger) and leptin (which signals fullness). Not getting enough sleep makes your body produce more ghrelin and less leptin, giving you a bigger appetite that’s less easily satiated. And when you’re tired, it’s much harder to resist your cravings with willpower alone. If weight management is part of your health routine, a consistent sleep schedule can help.
Do you have trouble getting or staying asleep? Check out these tips for getting a better night’s rest.
To help ensure these health benefits of consistent sleep, practice good sleep hygiene like getting electronics out of the bedroom, avoiding large meals before bed, and setting a cool, comfortable temperature in the room. Sweet dreams!
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