We all need to get proper sleep every night as this is when our body restores cells required for body processes such as respiration, digestion, and cognition. But that’s not the only reason to get a restful night’s sleep. There are actually many more benefits of sleep, some of which may surprise you. Here are some more health benefits of sleep and why sleep is so vital to our physical and mental health.
1. Diminish Depression
It is a vicious cycle – if you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, you may become depressed and irritable, and being irritable and low will affect the quality of your sleep. It may even cause insomnia. If you’ve had a restless night with a limited period of sleep, you’ll probably feel very bad-tempered the next day. Frequent sleep deprivation leads to feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion. Depression can be helped by adopting a better sleep routine.
Start by investing in a quality queen size mattress that will give you plenty of room to lie in a variety of positions without feeling cramped. Ensure the mattress is comfortable and supportive, and regulates your body temperature properly. Do not drink caffeinated drinks before bed or watch TV. Instead, drink a glass of warm milk that contains tryptophan, which is thought to induce sleep.
2. Help You Stay Slim
Another benefit of sleep is that getting a good night’s sleep can help you stay slim. It is believed that lack of sleep increases appetite. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters enable nerve cells to communicate. The two neurotransmitters involved in appetite are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin makes us feel hungry, and leptin tells us when we are full.
It is thought that a lack of sleep can affect the way these chemicals work, and studies have found that ghrelin increases in people with sleep deprivation, whereas leptin decreases. Sleep scientists have also discovered that people who have insomnia make different choices about the foods they choose to eat, and they will choose high-fat, calorific foods.
3. Better Brain Function
Another surprising benefit of sleep is improved brain health. During sleep, our brain preserves key memories and sorts through new information, discarding anything that isn’t required and consolidating stuff that is. During deep sleep, the latest information we have learned is processed and stored. This process helps us go over difficult situations subconsciously and helps us deal with them better upon waking.
These processes do not have sufficient time to sort through information and store memories if sleep is disturbed or shortened, so people who have insomnia may find that their memory is poor. Additionally, a sleep-deprived brain does not release the correct hormones at the right levels or at the right times, resulting in other issues like mood swings.
Whilst these can be treated with over-the-counter testosterone, it’s a good idea to treat your insomnia too. In the same way, sleep deprivation causes a person’s decision-making skills, emotional and behavioral control, and learning and focusing skills to be impaired. An adult should sleep for 7-9 hours every night to stay fit and healthy.
4. A Healthy Heart is Another Benefit of Sleep
A healthy heart is another benefit of sleep. Our body repairs itself during sleep and gives all of the frantic processes going on within our body a rest. During the non-rapid eye movement (NREM), heart rate decreases, blood pressure drops by around 10-20%, and breathing becomes more stable. This process essentially gives the heart a rest from the busy job it does when you are awake.
If your sleep is frequently interrupted, or you do not sleep for a long enough period of time, you will not spend enough time in a deep sleep, and your heart will not have sufficient time to rest and restore. If your blood pressure does not have time to dip during sleep, you may be at risk of a stroke, kidney problems, or heart attack.
5. Improve Immunity
Sleep is considered to be a great healer. That is why when you are sick or recovering from an operation, you will stay in bed and sleep for most of the day and night, and eventually, you’ll feel better. A lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to contracting illnesses. This is because proteins called cytokines are released by the immune system during sleep, and these proteins need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation. Poor, disturbed sleep patterns reduce the production of these proteins along with infection-fighting antibodies.
6. Superior Sex, Another Benefit of Sleep
Another surprising benefit of sleep is better sex. Sleep disorders can lead to infertility in males and females because the same part of the brain that releases hormones that regulate your circadian rhythms triggers the release of the hormones that affect ovulation in women and the maturation of sperm in men. Women can suffer from an irregular menstrual cycle if hormones are not released regularly or in sufficient quantities, which leads to difficulty conceiving. Men release the sperm-producing hormone testosterone during their sleep, so the quantity and quality of sperm are affected if sleep is disturbed.