We have all experienced a time when your alarm goes off after a sleepless night and you drag yourself out of bed feeling like a bear with a sore head.
A poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling tired, irritable and unable to concentrate. You crave a pick-me-up in the form of sugar or caffeine and spend most of the day wishing, hoping and praying for the moment you can get undressed and crawl back into bed again.
On the other hand, eight hours of deep sleep can see you springing out of bed “feeling the joys of spring” and ready to take on anything that the day has to offer you.
However, when you have a lot on your mind, getting a good night sleep can be easier said than done…
Just like having regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, getting a good night sleep is an essential part of looking after your health.
Here we look at some of the health benefits of sleep and why it’s important to make your usual 7.5 to 8 hours sleep a priority.
10 Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep!
For tips and advice on how to improve your sleep, visit our information on how to get a good night’s sleep.
In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage.
- Good Sleep Can Improve Your Attention & Concentration – It’s no surprise that getting a good night’s sleep can help to keep your energy levels up. Less well known though is that plenty of rest can also help to keep your mind from wandering and maintain your concentration throughout the day. Not sleeping properly can mean that both your body and brain fail to function properly through the next day. Not being properly rested could impair your attention span, concentration, strategic thinking, risk assessment and reaction times. This is even more important if you have a big decision to make, are driving, or are operating heavy machinery. So getting plenty of sleep can help you to stay sharp and focused all day long and could even improve your safety.
- Good Sleep Can Help You To Learn More & Make More Memories – Not only does sleep allow your body the time it needs to rest, repair and rebuild, but it also does the same for your mind. As you sleep, your brain begins to organise and process all of the information that you have taken on during the day. It converts your short-term memories into long-term memories. This helps you to learn better and remember better which means that when you wake up, you can often see things more clearly and remember things better.
- Good Sleep Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight – Not getting enough sleep can make it more difficult to control your appetite and thus can impact your eating causing you to gain weight. If you do not sleep properly, your body will need more energy because it’s awake for longer. Some research has even suggested that being sleep-deprived changes the level of hormones that signal hunger and fullness in your body. This can make you more likely to choose unhealthy foods (like those high in sugar), and to overeat, particularly later in the day. So sleep plays a key role in regulating how your body uses food for energy and getting enough sleep could help to control your weight.
- Good Sleep Can Keep Your Heart Healthy – A lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing a number of problems including high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart decease. Waking up too often is thought to stimulate your sympathetic nervous system which is the system that is responsible for your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is how your body physically reacts when it senses danger. Your sympathetic nervous system also activates your cardiovascular system and increases your blood pressure to prepare you for waking up. If you are regularly being kept awake too much or being woken up a lot, your body cannot compensate for this rise in blood pressure and your level may remain higher than expected. Having high blood pressure is also a major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease. Poor sleep has also been linked to poor insulin regulation and resistance. Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood sugar and if you are not getting enough sleep, your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar becomes disrupted and the levels of sugar in your blood can increase, which could cause diabetes. Therefore getting a good night’s sleep is an important factor in looking after your cardiovascular health.
- Good Sleep Can Keep Your Immune System Strong Which Can Prevent You Catching Many Illnesses – Getting a good night’s sleep can help to keep your immune system fighting fit and keep germs at bay. Sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair, which is one of the reasons you feel tired and want to sleep more when you are not feeling very well. Good sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders that your body might come into contact with, such as viruses like the common cold etc. Good sleep also helps these cells to remember past invaders, so that if you come across the same bugs and germs again, you are better prepared to fight them off the next time. So a good night’s sleep can help to strengthen your body’s immune response and it’s essential that you allow yourself time to rest & recover, when you are ill or run down.
- Good Sleep Can Take Care Of Your Emotional Wellbeing – If you have got a lot on your mind and are struggling with your emotions, going over things in your head can often keep you awake at night. If you are up all night worrying, you can often see a change in your mood and a lack of sleep can leave you feeling low and down. This could then cause you to feel more anxious and create more negative thoughts about not sleeping which could keep you awake even longer and can turn into a vicious cycle of worry and poor sleep. If this happens you can try practising meditation or mindfulness to help you sleep and take care of your emotional wellbeing. Alternatively you could try writing down your worries & concerns on a pad by the side of the bed before you go to sleep. This can help to put your thoughts in order as well as getting certain concerns off your mind, so that you are able to fall to sleep.
- Good Sleep Can Really Help Your Mental Health – Not only is sleep important when looking after your physical health, but it plays a massive part in looking after your mental health too. If you are not sleeping properly, you are at a much higher risk of developing poor mental health.
- Good Sleep Can Reduce Your Stress Levels – There are lots of things that can cause you to feel stressed, and how you personally deal with stress is different for everyone. Feeling stressed, for example, from work, relationships, financial or health concerns, is often a key factor for people who are struggling to sleep. When you are feeling stressed, your body releases ‘stress hormones’, for example cortisol, and this can keep you awake. On the other hand, a good night’s sleep can have the opposite effect of relaxing the systems in your body that are responsible for this stress response.
- Good Sleep Can Help You To Maintain Good Relationships – It’s no secret that a bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling grumpy and this can affect relationships. Making sure to get good sleep can help to put you in a more positive headspace which will make you feel good. This is likely to be felt by the people around you, such as your colleagues and loved ones which can help you to build and maintain these relationships. Therefore getting good sleep can help you to maintain good relationships. How much sleep you get can affect your language, reasoning skills and communication skills. All of these are key factors when building relationships with others.
- Good Sleep Can Have A Major Effect On Inflammation In Your Body – Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel disease. One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well. Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues