Your alarm goes off- You realize that you’ve had a sleepless night and wonder how you’re going to get through the day. We’ve all been there- lack of sleep can make you feel tired and unable to concentrate. You start the day with a cup of coffee and long for the moment to crawl back in bed.
But did you know that sleep can be beneficial for our health and improve our daily performance?
Sleep is very crucial, and it is as important as regular exercise and dieting. A good night’s sleep enhances our memory and energy levels, whereas if we’re sleep-deprived, we’re increasing the risk of developing health conditions.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between 18 and 64 years of age sleep between 7 to 9 hours, while those over 64 should sleep between 7 to 8 hours. However, studies show that a lot of people don’t get enough sleep, and as a result, there has been an increase in obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.
So if you’re cramming for your exam the night before or scrolling through your social media in the middle of the night, here are the benefits of why you should start calling it an early night.
1. Sleep reduces cardiovascular diseases
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who sleep less than the recommendations are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke, than those that get a good night’s sleep. Doctors emphasize that we should maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating nutritious food, but studies show that rest is not only beneficial for kids. Young adults with irregular sleep patterns may have high cholesterol levels, gain weight, and increased risk of hypertension.
2. Sleep reduces stress
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. In other words, it refers to physical and emotional tension and is expressed by frustration and anger- it’s our body’s response to challenges. For example, students that procrastinate and study the night before the exam feel stressed as they find it hard to cover all the syllabus in one night.
When you’re well-rested, you can concentrate more and take better decisions. In other words, If you don’t get enough sleep, you may notice that you’re more sensitive to negative stimuli, and this may lower your job performance. As a result, adults that sleep less than 7 or 8 hours find it hard to concentrate on their responsibilities and feel tired all day.
3. Healthier nervous system
Your nervous system kills the harmful bacteria in your body to fight off illnesses, but if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to get sick and take longer to recover.
4. A good night’s sleep leads to a healthy diet
If you’re sleep-deprived, you eat more calories than those with a regular sleep pattern because you tend to consume more junk food, which causes weight gain. Also, if you’re not getting enough sleep and have increased your sugary intake, this means that you have a high blood level of endocannabinoids- these are lipids whose function is similar to that of marijuana, as they increase our appetite. In other words, the endocannabinoid system regulates our immune response, appetite, metabolism, and memory.
Also, our body consists of two hormones that control hunger- ghrelin which stimulates appetite, whereas leptin decreases it; thus, if you don’t get enough sleep and end up eating more, that’s because ghrelin’s levels are higher than leptin’s.
5. Sleep boosts your memory
Are you wondering why you’re finding it hard to concentrate or remember things? Then it’s time to change your sleep pattern and work on getting more quality sleep, as this will help you to process things better. If you have an irregular sleep pattern, you’re more likely to be less productive at school or work and as a result, end up making more mistakes.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a vital component in our life as it helps in maintaining a healthier lifestyle and enhancing our performance. Most of the time, we take it for granted because we don’t get enough sleep as we’re more committed to other responsibilities. If you’re finding it hard to stick to a regular sleep pattern, you may consider optimizing your sleep environment so you’ll get the right amount of sleep without disrupting your concentration.