Debbie Rodrigues is a CrossFit athlete, certified Personal Trainer and a brain tumor survivor. On her blog, Debbie in Shape, she shares fitness and health tips to inspire others to overcome adversities and improve their quality of life.
Can you list at least 3 differences between your day after a good night sleep and a sleepless one? How productive are you after sleeping for just a few hours? How do you feel on the following day when your sleep was not deep? Can you focus? Are you moody? There are many benefits of sleep and many adverse effects if you are not getting enough.
Sleeping is good for you. In the hours when you are resting, your brain and your entire body is recharging. The same way machines need maintenance, we need to sleep to function properly. There are many benefits of sleeping enough hours on a regular basis and that is what we are going to review here.
Chronic sleep loss is a common problem in our society, yet people are unaware of the impact it has on their health. Loss of sleep puts you at higher risk for conditions such as hypertension, impairment of glucose control and increased inflammation. Individuals who report less than 7 hours sleep duration are at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and developing diabetes (1).
A good night sleep can contribute to stable levels of serotonin and higher dopamine levels. It prevents migraines provoked by REM, rapid eye movement. Have trouble with migraines? Learn about a solution here.
Sleep plays a main role in regulating metabolism and appetite. The levels of the hormones gherkin and leptin are directly influenced by the length and quality of your sleep. A well-rested person produces less ghrelin and more leptin. Since the former being the hormone that tells you when to eat and the latter, the one that tells you to stop eating, you can image the results when they are out of balance.
Growth hormone, or somatotropin, rises during deep sleep, which often begins about 30-45 minutes after falling asleep. Even though it reaches its highest levels at puberty, HGH is continually regulating the body’s metabolism.
After a good night sleep, one is more focused and can learn more efficiently. Sleep also plays an important role in consolidating memory. With adequate sleep and rest, your brain can coordinate information properly and you can access previously learned information. This also supports your judgement (2).
When tired, a person is less patient and more easily agitated which can increase your stress levels. If on top of that, you face stressful situations, things may escalate. Stress can also influence a vicious cycle of insomnia. It is important to develop specific behavioral patterns that promote good sleep patterns to prevent and control stress levels.
Depression and Mood
When it comes to your mental health, sleep plays a bigger impact than you think. It can be a bit of a chicken or the egg situation. Those who have a history of insomnia are 10x more likely to become depressed than those who sleep well (3). Depressed individuals are also more likely to have sleep issues including insomnia, trouble falling asleep and difficulty getting a deep sleep. If you have insomnia or depression, make sure to tell your doctor so you can create a plan to get better sleep and help your mental health.
Studies have found that individuals were significantly more pain-sensitive after experiencing interrupted sleep. While catching up actually had a much greater pain-relieving effect — greater than taking painkillers(4).
So if you want to keep your DOMS in check, some extra minutes in bed might help. You might also consider taking some magnesium before bed for a deep and restful night sleep.
Because lack of sleep causes blood vessels to dilate, causing the look of dark circles, bedtime works pretty much like a spa session. While you sleep, your skin renews itself. New skin cells grow and replace the older ones.
We have already mentioned the connection between sleep and inflammation here. Increased inflammation in the body throws off its ability to regulate the immune system. It also to bursts immune-related skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.
It is estimated that 20% of serious car crashes are related to sleepy drivers. The effects of sleep deprivation are similar of intoxicated drivers.
The more tired you are, the harder it to concentrate on something. Attention tasks are particularly sensitive to sleep loss. Giving a presentation after resting will help with word usage, tone of voice and speech. So the next time, instead of spending the night awake behind a computer, it may be better to go to bed earlier.
As you can see, that awesome feeling of waking up in the morning feeling great after a recovery night sleep is just one of its many benefits.
It is true that we all would like to have days that lasted 48 hours and we will try to fit in all our activities within the 24 we have. However, by neglecting with something as basic as our sleep, we may be damaging our productivity instead.
If for some reason you need to have a shorter night, make sure to catch up as soon as possible. This will prevent any damage is done to your overall health and well-being.
Remember that it is not simply about how many hours that you sleep. To fully benefit for the recovering effects of resting, it is necessary to have qualitative sleep. And since too much of it can be as damaging as insomnia, the tip is finding the amount of hours you benefit from the most.
- The impact of daily sleep duration on health: a review of the literature. – Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004 Spring;19(2):56-9. – Alvarez GG1, Ayas NT.
- Sleep, Learning and Memory. -http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory
- Depression & Sleep. National Sleep Foundation. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/depression-and-sleep
- The effects of total sleep deprivation, selective sleep interruption and sleep recovery on pain tolerance thresholds in healthy subjects – The Pain & Therapy Bibliography, Record ID 1529 -added Jan 24, 08, updated Feb 16, 15