Sleep affects every aspect of our lives. Our health, memory and even longevity are all dependant on us getting enough restful sleep. There are so many reasons to get a good night’s sleep but here are my top 10….
- Anti-Aging and Good Health – Sleep is the body’s down time, a time for cells to repair. Insufficient sleep is associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Sleep between 10pm and midnight is associated with improving longevity and aging. This is largely to do with hormone activity that is connected with our circadian rhythms (our internal body clock). Getting good sleep will make you feel healthier and may help you live longer and more healthily.
- Improving Immunity – Sleep is believed to boost your immunity as whilst you are sleeping your body produces protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight infection.
- Improving Memory – During sleep memories are strengthened and skills learned whilst you were awake are “practiced” (it’s a process called consolidation). When we learn something we get better with practice and it seems that performance is improved after allowing the learning to consolidate whilst we are sleeping. Also, sleep deprivation interferes with our ability to recall simple information, making us feel like we are losing it. Many of those memory issues and brain fog associated with things like menopause are largely a result of poor sleep.
- Creativity and Problem Solving – It is believed that whilst the brain is consolidating memories and learning during sleep, it also reorganises and re-structures memory. This can make us more creative and help solve problems. That old advice to “sleep on it” really does help.
- Improved learning and concentration – there have been lots of studies, particularly with children, showing that sleep improves our ability to concentrate and focus and also improves our learning outcomes. People who sleep adequately get better results in exams for example.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56% of their weight loss) than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. Those who had less sleep also felt hungrier. This is because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone). This explains why we tend to feel more hungry and want to snack more after a poor night’s sleep.
- Decision making – Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making. We all know how much more difficult it is to think clearly and make a good decision when we are tired. Did you know that just one night of insufficient sleep can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink!
- Emotional balance – Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, stress, irritability and depression and sufficient sleep can help us stay calm and reasonable.
- Stamina – not surprisingly sleep can improve our physical performance and stamina.
- Reducing stress – this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation as stress can interfere with sleep. However, finding ways to reduce stress can improve sleep ….. and taking steps to improve sleep can reduce stress levels. Sleeping well is a win, win!
If you would like to improve your sleep, please drop me a line.