Getting quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and body. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Inadequate sleep affects your ability to perform daily activities and increases the risk of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
- Improved Mental Function
Sleep plays a crucial role in brain function. During sleep, the brain processes new information and forms memories. Thus, getting enough sleep helps with learning, memory, cognitive and behavioral function. Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and alertness.
During sleep, emotions are processed. This results in improved mood and fewer negative emotional reactions. In contrast, not getting enough sleep increases the risk of mental distress, and a chronic lack of sleep may lead to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Sleep also impacts judgment. Getting a good night’s rest makes you think clearly and alert. Inadequate sleep affects your reaction times, and impairs your judgment, leading to accidents and poor decision-making.
- Supports the Immune System
Sleep regulates the body’s immune system. During sleep, the body produces cytokines that support your immune system in warding off infections. The body also produces growth hormones essential for development in children and adolescents during sleep. Growth hormones repair tissues and cells in children and adults.
A continuous lack of sleep impairs your immune function and its ability to fight off infections. This increases your risk of infections such as the common cold and diseases such as ulcers.
- Improves Heart Health
Heart rate goes down and blood pressure decreases while you sleep. This gives your cardiovascular system ample time to rest. Inadequate sleep causes your blood pressure to remain high for longer during a 24-hour cycle, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and heart attacks.
Research shows that constantly sleeping fewer than 7 hours a day, results in a 13% increased risk of death from heart disease.
- Regulates Blood Sugar
A lack of sleep increases the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Getting a good night’s rest ensures the regulation of blood sugar in the body. Sleep influences the body’s association with the hormone insulin. Insulin aids glucose to enter the body cells which then use glucose as energy.
Sleep deprivation increases the body’s resistance to insulin, increases inflammation, and causes hunger hormone changes which increases your risk of diabetes.
- Maintaining Healthy Weight
Sleep deprivation disrupts the hormones leptin and ghrelin that control appetite. Inadequate sleep increases the production of ghrelin which stimulates hunger and decreases the production of leptin which suppresses hunger. Therefore, a lack of sleep leads to a greater feeling of hunger and overeating which results in obesity.
To lose or maintain weight, good quality sleep, in addition to exercise and healthy eating choices is the way to go.