With such busy lives, sleep can become the least of our priorities. It often seems like there are many other important things to do, and that we can always cure drowsiness with a cup of coffee.
Besides just preventing exhaustion, however, there are many other benefits to good sleep. Here’s why getting enough sleep may be the best thing you can do for your health.
There’s a popular saying that goes, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. In fact, there is some truth in those words, because sleep deprivation can result in long-term, negative effects on one’s health.
On the flipside, restful sleep can heal the body and result in a longer, more fulfilling life. Here are five reasons why sleep is so important:
Sleep is linked to brain functions including concentration and cognition. A good night’s rest also aids memory retention, which helps you pick up new skills and knowledge quicker. So while you may be tempted to burn the midnight oil, getting more sleep can actually help you to be more productive.
Chronic sleep deprivation affects how our bodies process carbohydrates and has been linked to the risk of obesity. Additionally, sleep helps to regulate hormones that are responsible for appetite. If you don’t get good sleep, you’re likely to increase your food intake, which could lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Chronic sleep deprivation often results in irritability, inability to concentrate, and fatigue — all factors which put you at risk of depression. On the other hand, quality sleep better equips you to properly process and manage negative emotions, which can improve your mental health.
Sufficient sleep is vital for regulating immune function. By getting the recommended amount of sleep, your body has time to regenerate and repair collagen and cells after a day’s worth of stresses. Without adequate sleep, you’re more likely to fall sick after being exposed to a virus.
You may also take longer to recover since the body lacks time to produce infection-fighting antibodies.
On a similar note, sleep also helps prevent diseases and health conditions. During restful sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which can reduce inflammation.
This can protect you from life-changing conditions including heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer.
For adults, the recommended amount of sleep is 7 to 9 hours a night. That said, the exact number of hours differs between different people, with some only requiring 6 hours to feel well-rested, while others may need up to 11 hours of rest.
However, even getting the recommended number of hours does not guarantee a good night’s sleep. If you tend to wake up through the night, or still feel tired even after getting sufficient shut-eye, then you’re probably getting poor sleep.
What you need is quality sleep. This happens when you doze off within 30 minutes, sleep soundly through the night, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
Here are some easy ways to improve your quality of sleep:
Use apps like GETGREAT to monitor your sleep hours and earn rewards.
In-app features like FitAge help you track your physical activity (number of steps taken), amount of rest (number of hours of sleep) and cardiovascular fitness (resting heart rate). You can pair the app with a wearable to help you easily monitor and tweak your lifestyle habits to better support quality sleep.
Even with our busy schedules, it’s possible to get better sleep. As a start, set a target of at least 8000 steps, a resting heart rate of 64bpm and under, and at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day.
Make sleep a top priority and experience a wealth of health benefits with these tips.