High-quality sleep is a fundamental part of your day-to-day and long-term health. While many people understand the importance of nutrition and exercise, it is easy to overlook sleep’s role in physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
Each person’s specific sleep needs vary, but most research suggests adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day to reap all of its health benefits. Sleep quality matters as much as duration. Restful sleep that includes light, deep, and REM cycles contribute to getting the best quality sleep.
Poor sleep causes the release of greater amounts of the hormone cortisol, which controls your body’s stress regulation. Cortisol is necessary because it initiates the fight or flight response to keep you safe. However, excess cortisol leads to widespread inflammation and harms the cardiac muscle, compromising heart health.
Beyond elevating your risk of heart disease, poor sleep raises blood pressure and resting heart rate. Those changes increase your chance of heart attack and stroke. The risk is even greater if you suffer from sleep apnea.
Stronger Immune System
Sleep is a rejuvenating time that allows your body to repair and fortify itself. While you consciously experience tiredness due to your natural circadian rhythm, so do your cells.
Good quality sleep strengthens the immune system’s cells to help the body fight off disease and infection. Sleep also reduces systemic inflammation that hampers your immune responses and confuses your body about potential risks.
In addition, your ability to fight infections depends on the quickness of your immune cells’ response to germs. Good sleep keeps your immune system sharp and alert, stopping illness before it takes hold.
Sleep allows your brain to reset from the day’s stimuli and rest. Whether your poor sleep results from snoring or apnea, there are solutions that enhance your emotional wellbeing. Studies show well-rested individuals handle challenges and remain calm better than those who sleep poorly.
In addition, sleep helps regulate stress. This response is linked to higher empathy and emotional intelligence because a well-oriented mind can respond to complex situations better. Tiredness from poor sleep taxes the brain, forcing you to expend more energy during the day to maintain attention and focus. Good quality sleep reduces irritability.
Researchers have linked low-quality sleep with a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Studies have consistently found higher hemoglobin A1c markers in people who get insufficient sleep. Additionally, the regulation your body does during restful sleep helps maintain normal metabolism, fighting both the onset and progression of diabetes.
Good sleep allows the body to balance multiple hormones, including ghrelin, which tells your body it’s satisfied, and leptin, which tells your body it’s hungry. Too much leptin can cause you to overeat as your brain craves a correction to the hormone imbalance.
Improve Mental Performance
There is a clear link between sleep quality and the brain’s performance. Well-rested individuals consistently perform higher on cognitive, problem solving, and memory tests than their sleep-deprived peers.
Good quality sleep improves concentration, productivity, and accuracy, enhancing your professional and academic performance. Industries, from aviation to medicine, have regulations promoting sleep quality and duration to enhance safety and prevent accidents.
Regulate Body Weight
Multiple studies have linked good sleep with lower weight and better Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. Preventing obesity reduces your chances of developing life-threatening conditions like kidney disease and cancer.
Researchers also believe that poor sleep causes overeating because your body tries to overcompensate for its sleepiness by consuming more calories to create energy. Sleep deficits also lead to overconsumption of caffeine and other stimulants, which further impair sleep.
You’re also more likely to avoid exercise due to a lack of energy if you sleep poorly. Conversely, quality sleep maximizes the benefits of exercise. While workouts strengthen your heart and muscles, sleep is the body’s chance to rebuild and benefit from exertion.
Focusing on the quality and duration of your sleep is essential for maintaining or improving overall wellness. Researchers recommend establishing a consistent nighttime routine, stopping the use of electronics an hour before bedtime, and addressing sleep-related disorders to maximize health. Correcting sleep disturbances often improves or resolves physical and mental challenges.