10 Important Ways Rest and Sleep Benefit Your Health

A lot of people don’t seem to know why sleep is important – or they just dismiss its importance. Sleep is one of the activities that are often compromised when there are just too many things that need to be done and 24 hours in a day just does not seem enough.

However, time and again, physicians have stressed the importance of getting enough sleep. According to Eric J. Olson M.D. of Mayo Clinic, the optimal amount of sleep for most adults to function properly is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need 9 to 10 hours of sleep and school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.

It is often hard to follow the doctor’s advice of getting enough sleep, especially for us adults as we tend to be very busy every day. Adding to this problem is the fact that sometimes, we do have trouble getting sleep because of insomnia and other sleep problems. 

Here are top 10 reasons why sleep is important:

 

1. Sleep boosts your immune system

Sleep Boosts Immune System
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Our immune system is the first to be affected when we don’t get enough sleep. “People who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.” via Lack of Sleep: Can It Make You Sick?

 

2. Sleep improves your memory

 Sleep Improves Memory

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“Healthy sleep puts us in the right state of mind to take in information as we go about the day. Not only that. We need a good night’s sleep to process and retain that information over the long term. Sleep actually triggers changes in the brain that solidify memories—strengthening connections between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another.

Scientists think that while we sleep, memories and skills are shifted to more efficient and permanent brain regions, making for higher proficiency the next day. In fact, sleeping shortly after learning new information has been shown to help retention. Some research indicates that when people learn before going to sleep (or even before taking a nap), they remember the information better in the long term.” via Improve Your Memory with a Good NIght’s Sleep

 

3. Sleep restores and energizes

 

Sleep Energizes
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Lack of sleep equals lack of energy – most of us know that. If we don’t have enough sleep, we cannot expect to have the strength and energy to go about our daily tasks. But once we get enough sleep, we become rejuvenated and refreshed so that we feel like we can do anything.

“Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life.

“Teens need at least 8 hours—and on average 9¼ hours—a night of uninterrupted sleep to leave their bodies and minds rejuvenated for the next day. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite.”  via What Happens When You Sleep

 

4. Sleep stimulates creativity

 

Sleep Stimulates Creativity
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Good sleep has often been associated with creativity. Ever noticed that when you’re lacking sleep, your mind becomes dull as well?

“A new study into the effects of napping suggests that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may help the brain to create associations between unrelated ideas, enhancing creative problem-solving.” via Frontier: REM Sleep Stimulates Creativity

 

5. Sleep helps with weight management

 

Sleep Helps with Weight Management
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Some people think that lack of sleep will make you lose weight. But actually, the opposite may be true. Lack of sleep may make you look haggard and frail, but oftentimes, it leads to weight gain.

“In one study, recurrent sleep deprivation in men increased their preferences for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake. In another study, women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were more likely to gain 11 pounds (5 kilograms) compared with women who slept seven hours a night. Other studies have found similar patterns in children and adolescents.

“One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin — and stimulates the appetite. Another contributing factor might be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.” via Is Too Little Sleep A Cause of Weight Gain?

 

6. Sleep helps you stay mentally and emotionally fit

 

Sleep Improves Mental Fitness
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Sleep helps your brain to rest and prepare itself for the next day. It helps you stay active, pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Insufficient sleep can lead to depression, suicide symptoms, and other risk-taking behavior. Such people can lack self-motivation, get mood swings and sometimes can become angry and impulsive. 

 

7. Sleep improves concentration and productivity

 

Sleep Improves Concentration
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Sleep is very important to maintain various aspects of our brain – these include our productivity, reasoning, and concentration. One study suggests that lack of sleep will affect these brain functions negatively, the same way as alcohol intoxication does.

On the other hand, research shows that having enough sleep improves memory performance and problem-solving skills for both children and adults.

 

8. Sleep improves your health

 

Sleep to Live Longer
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Dr. William Dement, co-founder of Stanford Sleep Center, says that “sleep is the number one predictor of how long we’ll live.”

Most of us know that the lack of sleep can you put us at risk for several health problems. These often include cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. A survey says that 90% of people with insomnia or trouble falling and staying asleep also have another health condition.

When you get enough sleep, everything will go smoothly; you will eat healthier, get inspired to exercise, and live longer.

 

9. Sleep beautifies – it slows down the aging process

 

Sleep Reverses Aging
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Women who have aged gracefully often attribute their beauty to a healthy lifestyle. This means having enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy.

“During our wakeful hours, we are constantly damaging our body and breaking it down. During sleep healing and repair takes place. Getting the balance between the two right is essential. If we get insufficient sleep, then the rate at which we break the body down exceeds the rate at which we can heal and repair and our overall health gradually ratchets downhill.” via Anti-Ageing – Slow Down the Ageing Process

 

10. Sleep makes you happier

 

Sleep Makes You Happy
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Sleep is oftentimes associated with our mood. Lack of sleep often results in a terrible mood. It can ruin your whole day. Studies show that people who have enough sleep tend to be happier and have fewer problems with depression and anxiety.

In addition, since having enough sleep restores your energy, you will be refreshed as soon as you wake up and will experience a happier and better day.

 

How to sleep better at night naturally

Now that you know why sleep is important, let’s now look at another problem – not getting enough sleep. “Around 59% of Americans get seven or more hours of sleep every night, while 40% get less than seven hours.” via Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment 

Sleep deprivation or not getting enough sleep at night is a result of many things. It might be because of medical, physical, and emotional issues or it might be because of our habits and the food we eat. There are a lot of things that can contribute to us not having enough sleep, and it can be stressful and tiring if we’re not getting the sleep that we need.

The good news is, there are some natural remedies that we can do to help us sleep better at night. Below are 5 proven tips that you can follow to help you sleep better naturally:

 

1. Develop a Sleep Routine

“Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning—even on weekends. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better. Exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark helps, so stay in sync by opening the blinds or going outside right after you wake up.” via You’ll Be Sleeping Better With These 20 Tips

 

2. Exercise

“Researchers in Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology reported that previously sedentary adults who got aerobic exercise four times a week improved their sleep quality from poor to good. These former couch potatoes also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less sleepiness during the daytime. Just be sure to wrap up your workout session several hours before bedtime so that you’re not too revved up to get a good night’s sleep.” via 10 Natural Ways to Sleep Better

 

3. Sip milk

“Does milk actually make you sleepy? In short, probably not on a chemical level. While there is the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan in milk, studies are debatable that it actually does do anything. Much like turkey, the levels aren’t such that they would have much of an impact. But all of that doesn’t mean it won’t make you sleepy at all, and there is still reasoning behind a glass of warm milk, mostly in terms of psychology. Many people find the warmth soothing and relaxing, helping them unwind both physically and mentally. The routine of a glass of warm milk is like any other routine that you need to complete before bed, getting you one step closer to falling asleep.” via 18 Natural Sleep Aids to Get Better Sleep

 

4. Stop smoking

“Nicotine is a stimulant, so it prevents you from falling asleep. Plus, many smokers experience withdrawal pangs at night. Smokers are 4 times more likely not to feel as well rested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers, studies show, and smoking exacerbates sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, which can also stop you from getting a good night’s rest. Don’t worry that quitting will keep you up nights too: That effect passes in about 3 nights, says Lisa Shives, MD, sleep expert and founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine.” via You’ll Be Sleeping Better With These 20 Tips

 

5. Cut caffeine after 2 p.m.

“Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for about 8 hours, so if you have a cappuccino after dinner, come bedtime, it’ll either prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.” via You’ll Be Sleeping Better With These 20 Tips

 

Conclusion:

Sleeping is something that you should not take for granted. You might think that other things like healthy eating and exercise are the main keys to a healthy lifestyle, but there is no denying that getting enough sleep is equally important, if not, the most important. If you want to have a longer and happier life, give your body a chance to rest and be refreshed.

Gala Gorman