Understanding the Need for Sleep
The benefits are very noticeable when you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. You feel less irritable, have more energy, and are more productive throughout the day. However, many Americans believe getting enough sleep is just a luxury, and they put off going to bed at a decent hour in order to get more work done. According to the CDC, one third of Americans do not get enough sleep. This behavior affects every part of your body and has been linked to many chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
How Sleep Benefits Your Whole Body
From recovery to hormone secretion, a lot happens while we are sleeping. Listed below are facts on how sleep benefits your entire body collected from Noah Siegel, M.D., an instructor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School, Jonathan Jun, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at John Hopkins University, and the Greatist.
- Brain: While we sleep, our brain works on converting short-term memories to long-term memories. Getting enough sleep ensures optimal cognitive function, as well as the ability to focus and pay attention throughout the day.
- Hormone Regulation: A healthy sleep cycle regulates your hormones and ensures cortisol levels decrease at night and growth hormone levels increase. Sleep deprivation can lead to many hormonal issues including stunted growth.
- Immune System: Getting less than seven to eight hours of sleep a night can affect your ability to fight off illness. That is because your body needs time to recover at night and produce enough anti-inflammatory cells.
- Heart: Cardiovascular health depends heavily on sufficient sleep. Your heart needs time to recover at night, too. Sleep also regulates insulin, ghrelin, and leptin, which all work to control our metabolism and keep our heart healthy.
- Skin: “Beauty sleep” is not longer just a myth. Studies show people who do not regulatory get enough sleep had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors. It has also been linked to more acne in teenagers and young adults.
- Weight: Sleep apnea is linked as a major cause of weight gain, and an unhealthy weight can cause sleep apnea. Therefore, living an active lifestyle that includes seven to eight hours of sleep a night, can help you avoid this vicious cycle.
- Muscles: Sleep regulates inflammation and gives muscles time to recover, reducing risk for injuries. This is essential for anyone who is active, but especially athletes.
Getting enough sleep is not a luxury, it is something people need for good health. For more information and to view an interactive breakdown on the benefits of sleep, click here!