There’s no question that sleep is crucial for keeping us in the pink of health. You could eat all the right things, clock your daily steps, religiously stay away from sugar and drink nothing but plain water… But without sleep in your system, your health will still take a hit. Heck, you’d barely even be functional.
So just why is sleep so good for us? How exactly does it impact our lives, and is it really as important as our chiding mothers always said? Read on to find out.
Good sleep, great mind
There’s a reason why you’re always told to get enough sleep before an important exam or a big interview. Sleep helps to improve brain function, including concentration, productivity, cognition and performance. Studies have shown that good sleep helps enhance problem-solving skills and improve memory performance, while sleep deprivation can have similar impairing effects on your brain function as alcohol intoxication. Yikes. Think of sleeping as helping your brain recharge: after a long day at work or school, you need to power down so you can stay powered up for the next day. Those sleeping hours aren’t wasted – your neurons are busy sharpening up!
Good sleep helps you keep in shape
Turns out, counting your calories isn’t enough, you have to count your hours of sleep too! Multiple studies have shown that weight gain is heavily (pun unintended) linked to poor quality of sleep. As compared to their peers who enjoy adequate rest, those with shorter sleep durations are more at risk of obesity. That’s because not getting the right amount of sleep messes up your hormones, increases your appetite, and also makes you feel sluggish and more unmotivated to exercise during your waking hours. Who knew you could lose weight from just lying down!
A good sleep a day keeps the doctor away
Having bad sleep can lead to an increase in many health risk factors, namely heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. If you suffer from such chronic diseases, it’s imperative that you get sufficient sleep to prevent your health from deteriorating. Also, getting enough sleep helps greatly improve your immune function and reduce inflammation, so you can keep those pesky bugs at bay!
Increased sleep, increased happiness
Mental health issues are also strongly linked to poor sleep habits, and depression is much more commonly seen in those suffering from sleeping disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia.
Clocking your optimal 7 or more hours of sleep every night is important, but it’s also equally important what time you do it and how well you do it. This means you should try to keep to a fixed sleep schedule every night, and optimise your sleeping environment so that you get the best quality of sleep possible. Ultimately, sleep is so much more crucial to our lives than we realise. It’s not just about the snooze, but the quality of sleep spills over to affect our waking hours as well.