It’s suggested that we receive around seven to eight hours of sleep every night. A lack of sleep can often lead to undesirable feelings of grogginess and tiredness the following day, and these aren’t the only consequences which can result from a poor night’s kip.
A host of various scientific research and studies have proven how vital sleep is for maintaining a good level of health.
As we spend on average about one-third of our lives asleep, you may be wondering why exactly getting the recommended hours of quality sleep is so important.
To help show you why getting a great night’s sleep is so essential, here are ten reasons explaining why we should all be aiming for the best night’s sleep possible.
Sleep can improve memory
Whether it’s at playgroup, school, university or in the world of work, we’re constantly learning new things and taking in new information.
During sleep, a process referred to as ‘consolidation’, is is fact, taking place, helping you to strengthen new memories, information or skills which you might have acquired.
By consolidating these memories and making them stable, this allows us to then be able to access this new information at a later stage by the process of ‘recall’ as explained in Healthy Sleep’s article.
Sleep can help to reduce stress
Research has revealed that lower blood pressure and prevention of elevated levels of stress are associated with getting a good night’s sleep.
Continued stress can have damaging effects on the body, as well as impacting the rate of cell growth which may result in increasing the ageing process at a quicker rate.
Sleep helps to reduce stress by promoting relaxation and giving the cells the vital time they need to repair and grow.
Sleep helps to control weight
Another reason as to why getting a good night’s sleep is so important is that it can help in sustaining a healthy weight.
If you become sleep deprived, this results in disruption of the hormone balance responsible for regulating and controlling your appetite. Lack of sleep can often lead to an increase of appetite and a particular craving for high-calorie fatty foods.
This article from The Huffington Post highlighted that participants of a study who went to bed late and woke up late the day after had an increased calorie uptake of up to 248 more than individuals who went to bed earlier and received a better night’s sleep.
Sleep could lessen the chance of developing diabetes
Not receiving the recommended amount of sleep every night could increase the chances of being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
This is due to the fact that sleep could impact the process in which your body processes glucose. As explained in Authority Nutrition’s blog, a study of healthy young male adults showed that restricting sleep up to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused indications of pre-diabetes.
The article also reported that ‘poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population.’
A time for the body to repair and restore
While you’ll hopefully feel relaxed and restful throughout the night, your body is in fact busily working away to repair and grow new tissue, as well as increase the flow of blood to the muscles.
As we discussed in another one of blogs looking at the long-term effects of sleep deprivation, additional protein molecules are created during the night, helping your immune system to restore your body at a cellular level in order to help fight against exposure to bacteria.
For this reason, sleep is vital in strengthening your body’s immune system to be able to combat infection and keep you healthy.
Sleep could even extend life expectancy
The importance of sleep in helping to keep us fit and healthy is essential, but did you also know that getting the right amount of sleep may also lead to increased life expectancy?
An article reported by the Mirror as discussed by NHS Choices suggested that receiving less than six hours of sleep could make you 12% more likely to die prematurely as opposed to someone who receives about eight hours of sleep.
It was however, highlighted that the study’s findings don’t necessarily mean that not receiving the recommended amount of sleep could only result in an earlier death, as just a casual link has been suggested.
Sleep can affect our social interactions
Another way in which poor quality sleep may impact us on a day-to-day basis is by affecting our emotions during social situations.
One way in which our social interactions may be affected is an inability to be able to distinguish basic human emotions or process social emotions and cues.
Sleep helps to keep the heart healthy
We’ve already mentioned how a good night’s sleep can aid in helping to reduce levels of stress. Another way in which sleep is fundamental for keeping our bodies healthy is by reducing levels of inflammation commonly caused by stress.
An increased level of ‘inflammatory markers’ has presented links with heart diseases and strokes. Sleep helps to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol level at a steady and healthy rate.
Sleep can help to boost athletic performance
To be efficient in carrying out day-to-to tasks, sleep is vital for providing us with energy and vitality.
For individuals who are especially sporty or active, sleep is essential for helping to maximise physical demands.
A lack of sleep has displayed clear links to poorer exercise performances in older women. Further studies of older women have also revealed that slower walking, lower grip strength, and an increased struggle in carrying out independent activities were associated with getting fewer hours of sleep.
Sleep deprivation could be linked to mental health illnesses
Research has shown a strong relationship between mental health problems or mood disorders (such as depression or anxiety) and receiving poor quality sleep.
It’s also been reported that individuals diagnosed with sleeping disorders, including insomnia, have higher rates of depression as opposed to individuals without sleeping disorders.
A recent investigation discussed on The Guardian revealed that sleeplessness may result in neurons becoming ‘muddled’ with electrical activity. This finding could prove to be imperative in helping to develop new treatments for mental health disorders.