The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

Why Is Sleep So Important?

As kids, we avoided sleep. As adults, we crave it. But sometimes it can be elusive. We either feel restless from anxiety or stress so we can’t sleep (even though we want to) or we just need that extra HOUR or two in the day so we put it off a little longer.

Whether you love it or hate it, sleep is a must for a healthy and happy lifestyle and if you start to miss it…you’ll feel it. 

Let’s take a look at why, as adults, we need 7-9 hours of sleep every night to stay in good health. 

Keeps You Healthy

This might seem like a vague heading, but sleep really does improve your overall health.

According to the Sleep Foundation, “lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk for certain diseases and medical conditions. These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death.”

It can even help fight off some of those diseases and gives your immune system a boost. “Sleep helps boost your body’s ability to fight illness. During slumber, the body produces cytokines — proteins that direct immune cells to fight inflammation throughout the body.”

Sleep is also your best partner when it comes to working out and keeping your body safe. When you sleep, your body releases hormones that help restore damaged tissues, like muscles. If you’re sleep-deprived, your body isn’t going to recover from injury, or even from a tough workout, as quickly.

And, of course, it can help you manage stress and stress is terrible for your immune system!

Helps Manage Your Weight

If you’re trying to lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

“Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. Researchers found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, even though their calories stayed equal.

Sleep deprivation also makes your metabolism sleepy. After 4 days of poor sleep, your ability to process sugar and other foods and turn them into energy takes a hit. So if you want to drop some lbs get some zzz’s!

Better Focus & Memory 

“Sleep is important because being awake is important,” says Pulmonologist and sleep disorders specialist Samuel Gurevich, MD. “And one or two nights of bad sleep can impair your ability to function well the next day.”

A lack of sleep can lead to altered brain function such as:

  • Reduced focus and concentration.
  • Problems with memory and attention.
  • Irritability

Sleeping helps to lock memories into your brain. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re less able to remember things you learned while you were awake.

So if you want to put in your peak performance during the day, make sure you’re getting rough sleep at night.

Improve Your Mood

This might go without saying but of course if we feel better, recover faster, can focus better, and aren’t irritable, we’re going to be in a better mood! So if you have a stressful job, a family to manage, and want to face it all with a smile, get enough sleep!

While one night of bad sleep isn’t going to negatively impact your health (though it might make the next day a little rough) if you’re having trouble sleeping consistently, you should start looking for a solution. 

How to Improve Sleep

Here are some things you try if you’re having trouble sleeping:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime, even on weekends
  • Get natural sunlight within an hour of waking up and an hour before going to bed (outside, not through a window!)
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bed
  • Exercise early in the day instead of close to bedtime 
  • Consider a screen ban in the bedroom and avoid screens if possible starting an hour before bedtime

So if you want to feel better and do more, make sure you’re well rested!

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