We hear over and over again that getting eight hours of sleep per night is good for your health, but we routinely cut down on sleep to try and squeeze more out of each day. It’s crazy to think that 24 hours just isn’t enough time to do everything, but that’s how many of us feel.
The problem is cutting back on your sleep may actually be doing you more harm than you think. If you want to be more productive during the day, it’s better to get a restful night’s sleep rather than sacrificing it, for the sake of trying to get more done.
Here are 10 reasons why you should be getting enough sleep every night:
- Weight loss is one of the most notable benefits of sleeping enough each night. If you are cutting back on your sleep time, then it is likely that your metabolism will slow down, which makes it harder to lose weight. Also less sleep affects 2 hormones that play a crucial role in your weight loss – ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals when you should eat and leptin signals when you should stop eating. And sleep deprivation increases ghrelin while lowering leptin, which means you end up eating more. (Find out how you can effectively increase leptin to help manage your weight.)
- Sleeping more can help extend your lifespan. One research study looked at the average length of time that each person slept, compared with their lifespan. It was discovered that people who slept less than five hours per night didn’t live as long as those who routinely slept a minimum of seven hours per night. This may be because lack of sleep causes your cortisol (stress hormone) levels to rise, which increases your blood pressure, making your body more susceptible to heart attacks and stroke. It’s also been shown that lack of sleep can put your body into a state inflammation which can also lead to serious diseases.
- Improving mood is an important reason to get enough sleep at night. Have you ever had a bad day after a poor sleep the previous night? There’s reason why you feel so irritable and moody. There’s an area in your brain called amygdala which controls emotions, particularly negative emotions like anger and rage. When you don’t get enough sleep your amygdala doesn’t functions as well, increasing negative emotions and making you more susceptible to losing your patience and getting you angry easier. That’s why when you get enough sleep your mood and attitude is much better.
- A recent study showed that people look younger and more attractive after a good night’s sleep. Here’s why… during sleep your body produces growth hormones which helps with collagen production essential for youthful looking skin. Also during the night, your body produces melatonin which is a hormone that helps protect your skin. So if you want to increase the health of your skin and prolong your youthful looks, make sure you get enough sleep.
- Better concentration and sharpened attention can be gained with a good night’s rest. When you have a bad night of sleep, it can decrease concentration levels and leave you struggling to get through the day. Lack of focus may be caused by shortened delta sleep phase (the phase just before REM). During this phase of sleep your brain is able rest and hence improve your cognitive function…allowing you to concentrate better. Similar to your body needing rest in order to build lean muscle and burn fat. So when you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep you may be short changing your brain’s rest time and making it more difficult to stay focused during the day.
- Sleep can help improve your memory. Even though your body is resting, your mind is at work all through the night. During this time, the brain practices skills that were learned while you were awake, and it stores the information so that you can access it at a future date if needed. If you’re trying to master a skill, it’s better to practice it and then walk away from your practice and sleep on it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can perform the skill better the next day.
- Lower stress levels are linked with getting a good night’s sleep. If you have high levels of stress, often times a full night of high quality sleep is the best way to improve your stress levels and feel better. During the night your body is able to work on balancing the hormones more effectively, especially lowering your cortisol level.
- Getting enough sleep can help prevent metabolic disorders, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Although the link between lack of sleep and metabolic disorders is strong, the mechanism wasn’t clear until recently. Several studies done indicate that getting quality sleep allows your body to manage food intake more effectively and maintain the right balance of energy, as well as metabolize glucose much better.
- You can reduce inflammation levels in your body by getting enough sleep. During the night, your body is able to repair tissues and renew cells, so that you’re ready for the next day. But, if you’re not getting enough sleep, your body isn’t able to make the necessary repairs, which then put your body in an inflammatory state. Chronic inflammation can cause premature aging, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease… but it’s easily preventable by getting enough sleep. Don’t forget that consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids from foods like salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines can additionally help you lower your inflammation as well. If you can’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, you can also take high quality omega-3 supplements as well.
- A stronger immune system can be achieved through good sleeping habits. Have you ever come down with a cold after staying up to late? It’s because lack of sleep weakens your immune system. Getting enough sleep is one way to avoid illness, especially during cold and flu season.
So there you have it, 10 reasons you need to be getting more sleep. Next time your busy trying to squeeze everything in one day, just remember that stopping early to get more sleep in the end is WAY more beneficial for you in the long run! Life’s a marathon, don’t burn yourself out… get some sleep!
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