Why is Sleep Important for Health?
With the current busy schedules and the pressure to find balance between family and work, social life and hobbies, people no longer have enough time to sleep. And with such trends in our world today, sleep happens to be one of the most overlooked health and well-being factors.
Quite often people will focus on factors that will tend improve their outward appearance like diets, weight loss, gym workouts and exercise regimes, while completely ignoring the fact that how you feel on the inside will also determine how you look on the outside. Bags under your eyes, laziness in appearance, lower brain and body activity levels, your facial expressions, mood etc. The reality is that getting adequate rest and allowing your body to unwind and regenerate itself at night is an important factor in finding balance, reducing stress and overall happiness and wellbeing.
It is worth noting that recent scientific studies done on sleep have shown that a lack of sleep can lead to some significant changes in the human body. These changes are likely to interfere with the biological functions of the body. And in the long-term inadequate sleep can lead to related health complications.
And for that reason, in this article we are going to discuss reasons why sleep is important and the possible side effects that may arise in case of sleep deprivation. So if it’s past your bed time and you are reading this (why not bookmark this article) and go and focus on your sleep and come back to us when your body is feeling a little fresher ideally in the morning, it’s just a thought. We say this because having a solid night time routine is conducive to adequate sleep, and is a fundamental step in moving you closer to achieving optimum sleep during the night.
Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
The random changes that occur in the body due to a lack of enough sleep, increase the chances of corresponding health problems such as heart attacks and obesity. This means that for many reasons, sleep is an important function to the human body that should not be overlooked.
Below we have listed some of the reasons why you should consider rescheduling your daily routines and tasks, which will enable you to get to bed earlier, thereby ensuring you get enough sleep;
1. Heart Diseases and Diabetes
Lately sleep has been flagged as a global health concern. Many people are suffering from sleep related issues due to lack of enough sleep. And that is why people who suffer from insomnia have been diagnosed as being more prone to cardiovascular diseases than people with no sleep disorders.
They are also at a higher risk of stroke and heart attacks than those people who have received enough nightly sleep. Sleep related studies have found that most people who never get enough nightly sleep and wake up feeling tired are likely to develop cardiovascular diseases like heart failure after about eleven years.
As well as this, sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes. However, there is still a lot going on regarding studies and research of this condition. It’s advisable that you visit a doctor in any case where you are experiencing blurred vision, extreme thirst and constant fatigue even after having an adequate night’s sleep. These could be possible indicators of the prediabetes condition.
Lack of enough sleep has been linked to a couple of other related health complications and depression is one of them. According to research done on sleep and its effect on the human psychology; people who lack inadequate nightly sleep are five times more likely to have symptoms of depression. This means that lack of enough sleep will not only tamper with your physical but also your mental health in the long term.
3. Slow Brain Activity and Memory Loss
Most people tend to think that during sleep both the mind and body system shuts down. However, this is not always the case. That is because, sleep is primarily and inactive period where restoration, processing and strengthening takes place. Therefore, during sleep your mind tends to consolidate and solidify the memories we have stored.
For that reason, a single night of inadequate sleep will highly impact our alertness, concentration span as well as our capabilities to solve problems. And that is why, younger adults who lack enough sleep may end up tampering with their intelligence and the overall development of their minds, although this can be a slightly more complex task to assess.
That is because, during sleep everything that is learnt during the day is reorganized properly in the memory for future access. And if you don’t get the right amount of sleep for effective functioning of the memory, in there near future you will have trouble remembering what happened today.
4. Weight Gain
When you sleep for 6 hours or less, you are likely to get increased appetite and hunger pangs. This is particularly relevant to foods rich in carbohydrates that promote the production of insulin. Excess insulin in the body can lead to excessive storage of body fat. People who have achieved enough sleep are likely to lose weight faster and this is an indication of an optimum resting period.
5. Higher Risks of Accidents
In our world today, many of the accidents on our roads have been linked to people who have attained inadequate sleep. While some of these accidents can be linked to narcolepsy, which is a unique condition where a person will involuntarily falls asleep, a lack of sleep is linked to a higher risk of road traffic accidents.
6. Early Aging
If you have ever spent a night lying awake or have stayed up until very late, perhaps when studying or preparing, you’ll agree with me that you rarely look your best the following morning. If that’s an effect of one day’s sleeplessness, then imagine what happens when you make it a routine? That is why, sleeplessness is also linked to long term aging effects.
The reason for this is because, when our bodies are overly exhausted they tend to operate on a stress hormone known as cortisol. High levels of cortisol in the human body leads to the destruction of collagen proteins that keeps that shimmer and elasticity in the human skin.
When the collagen is destroyed, the skin and muscles underneath it lose their firmness hence forming fine lines, wrinkles and a poor skin tone. Therefore, only deep sleep can help to repair skin cells and optimal production of the growth hormones, by reducing stress causing factors in the body.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep can have an important effect on a persons overall mood and wellbeing. It has also been proven to impact on a number of key areas including;
1. Effective Memory
Sleep helps you to organize your thoughts and ideas. That is why most learners are encouraged to have enough sleep so that they wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to work and study at an optimum level. The best thinking happens when you are asleep, and your subconscious mind flourishes during this time.
That means, if you want to grasp a new idea better, you will probably do it better after having a good night sleep.
2. Sleep increases your life span
Just like eating and staying healthy, a good night sleep will help you increase your life by a few more years. However, it is important to note that too much sleep also reduces your life span. The research done so far haven’t proven the reason why this happens for definite, but the effects are measurable.
More to that, sleep also affects the quality of your life. Most of the things we ignore are affected by sleep and we tend to overlook the fact that sleep is a primary function to our bodies. The better you sleep, the better you may feel.
3. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is typically an immune response of the body, where white blood cells are produced to fight against invading organisms. Afterwards, the body cleans up the entire system and reduces the inflammation which usually happens when you are asleep.
Therefore, if you don’t have enough sleep, the inflammation will continue. Doctors have linked inflammation to diabetes, stroke, arthritis, premature aging among other symptoms. Researchers have also discovered that if you end up sleeping for six hours or less, you are more likely to develop inflammatory complications compared to someone having eight hours of a good night’s rest.
4. Reduces stress levels
Have you ever woken up feeling angry? The obvious answer is no. Even if you slept angry, you will wake up very happy until you remember what got you mad in the first place. Our bodies produces an enzyme responsible for experiencing relaxing feelings when we are asleep.
5. Repair and general body maintenance
When you are asleep, your body takes the opportunity to self-repair and fight against any environmental pollutants that might have affected you during the day. Dust, dirt, bacteria, chemical exposure, pollen etc. With that in mind, your cells will probably start functioning less effectively in coping with these tasks the more you deprive yourself of sleep.
6. You will lose weight
If you are tired, it may be harder to stick to a given dietary plan. You will easily opt for fast foods that are more energetic and require less effort to prepare. That is because your body is craving for a boost in its sugar level. The more tired you get, the harder it will be for you to try eating less junk food or sugary substitutes, and eating healthier foods.
7. Sleep improves your social interaction and mood
When you don’t have enough sleep, you will end up with increased levels of frustration, tiredness and irritability and mood swings. That will affect your overall interactions with the people around you and may lead to you being less social as a result.
8. Boost in immune responses
Sleep has a great positive effect on your immune responses. A slight deviation in your sleep pattern will have adverse effects in your immune system. The effect of any deviation means you will experience a reduced natural immunity due to lower blood pressure.
If you compare two individuals, one who doesn’t have a good night’s sleep while the other has achieved enough, the latter seems to have lower blood antibodies compared to the first. This reduction in antibody levels usually stays for about eight hours.
Meaning that from the time you didn’t have enough sleep, you will probably be prone to more diseases than before then.
9. Better sex life
The majority of the people who don’t register enough sleep, seem to suffer when it comes to sex life because they are too tired. More importantly, men are likely to suffer from lower levels of testosterone due to low levels of sleep. However, the exact cause of this situation is not yet understood or explained in any great detail.
All in all, less sleep will obviously affect your love life in one way or another. Take for example if you stay awake one night because you are at work. When you come home the next day, you are playing catch up and will be too tired to even hold a conversation with your better half. That will not only affect your wellbeing but also your relationship as well.
10. Improves productivity
If you have enough sleep, you will be able to handle your day to day activities with a refreshed mind and greater enthusiasm. Greater energy levels usually means getting more done essentially reaching a higher state of productivity.
How do I increase my sleep hours?
As you know by now, you need at least seven hours of sleep for a typical adult. If you have had previous problems trying to maintain this routine, here are a few tips you can try which may help you out.
1. Start by building a regular sleep pattern
Try maintain a regular routine for when you sleep and when you wake up. That will help you maintain a steady sleep cycle and allow your body to adjust accordingly. Therefore, your body will automatically shut down at the right time and restart when scheduled. Think of your body as an electronic device with a timer. If you stick to the program, it will serve you effectively both in the short and long run.
2. Avoid any sleeping stimulants
Chocolate, coffee or sleeping pills will affect your sleeping habits. Try not to take any of these stimulants if at all possible, if not then take them a few hours before going to bed. More to that, alcohol will help you sleep but will make you susceptible to a form of sleep disorder known as Sleep Apnea and snoring so it’s best avoided. Check out our article on alcohol and snoring.
3. Use sleeping aids
With some of the latest advancements in technology, there are different sleep related devices that can use to help you get a good night sleep. More importantly, if you suffer from any disorders that hinder you from getting a good sleep for instance snoring, you can always get checked and assessed for such devices in order to curb these problems.
The market is full of different products and sometimes it can be difficult finding the right device for you. That is why, you can check out our hand-picked list of the best anti-snoring devices that will help you get the most effective device for you.
4. Regular exercises
Being physical during the day will help you get the rest you require at night. This is because exercise encourages deep sleep. However, you need to make sure you don’t exercise too close to your bed time as this can have the opposite effect.
5. Comfortable bed
If it’s been a while since you changed you mattress or you think you might need an upgrade because the one you have isn’t that comfortable or is old and worn then a new mattress may be just the thing to make you feel more comfortable. You can check out the best mattresses for better sleep for instance the memory foam mattresses.
As you will have probably seen by now, sleep is a very vital component to your general health and wellbeing. If you are having trouble getting enough sleep and none of the suggestions listed above are helping, then it’s high time you visited your doctor or indeed a sleep specialist to help guide you a little further along your journey. It is possible you might be suffering from a disorder that needs a closer professional examination, or maybe it’s a case where you haven’t found that little change that brings about better sleep. It may be a case where you decide to keep a sleep journal. Essentially writing down your nightly routine in order to better understand what it consists of and then reflect on where improvements can be made perhaps with a sleep specialist, For example you may keep a journal every month essentially recording nightly routines and also your morning times.
After a month you can then review and look for certain traits that have a negative impact on your mood or outlook the following morning. This may be something as simple as discovering that every Tuesday you feel tired in the morning time, which might be as a result of that Monday evening drink and movie you habitually undertake with your better half.
Either way it is worth remembering that there is always a solution it’s just a matter of finding and implementing it in the right way.
If you found this article helpful or interesting please check out our other articles and have a look at our blog posts. Sharing it will also hopefully help others to find the solutions they need to improve their sleep outlook too.
If you feel like commenting please do so we would love to hear your sleep and snoring related stories, questions or indeed tips on how you or someone you know has achieved better sleep!