Sleeping well at night on a consistent basis is necessary for good health. It is as critical as a healthy diet and regular physical activity, and maybe, even more important. However, today, people tend to ignore this fact and sleep quality has decreased as well. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, in America, 70% of adults report that they get insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.
Not getting enough sleep can take its toll on relationships, health, work, moods and more. Moreover, a sleep-deprived person driving poses just as much danger as a driver who is drunk. Researchers have discovered that proper night sleep on a regular basis offers many health benefits:
- Keeps your heart healthy: Lack of sleep can take a toll on your health. However, experts say that sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For heart health, try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- May help prevent cancer: According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is some evidence of a link between insufficient sleep and the risk of cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that the rate of breast cancer was 30 percent higher among women who worked shifts. Researchers think that light exposure reduces melatonin levels, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors and protect against cancer. To help your body produce melatonin naturally, keep your bedroom dark at night and turn off your phone, computer, and television screen (blue lights) 2-3 hours before bedtime. These blue lights are known to interrupt sleep. Melatonin production can also be increased by getting enough sun during the day.
- Reduces stress: Lack of proper sleep stresses the body and mind. Chronic sleep deprivation could lead to mental health issues such as depression. Sleeping well can improve mood and mental health.
- Improves concentration and productivity: Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect brain function. Sleep enhances brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.
- Affects lifespan: Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan. According to an article in Health, in a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night. So, sleep better and live longer.
- May help you lose weight: Lack of sleep is a common risk factor for weight gain and obesity. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain; when you are sleepy, it increases certain hormones in your blood and those same hormones drive appetite. Try to get quality sleep if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Helps the body repair itself: When you sleep, your body is repairing the damage caused by stress, UV rays and other harmful exposure. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping and these protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage.
- Can maximize athletic performance: According to a Healthline article, a study covering over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activities. Quality sleep was shown to improve athletic performance.
- Improves immunity: Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. Getting at least eight hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold.
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels: You’re less likely to get type 2 diabetes if you get good, deep sleep at night. The amount of glucose in your blood drops during the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle. If you don’t get deep sleep, your body will have a harder time responding to your cells’ needs and blood sugar levels (webmd.com).