Getting a good night’s sleep could be crucial for your health. Here’s why
There are few better feelings than going to bed exhausted and waking up refreshed. Giving your body and mind a solid seven or eight hours to recuperate physically and mentally can vastly improve the way you feel, offering both your brain and muscles a chance to switch off.
Yet interestingly, a good night’s sleep is now associated with an enormous range of physical and mental health benefits beyond just the subjective feeling of having recharged your batteries overnight.
Read on to find out more about the research that has shown how important sleep could be for your health.
Improved cognitive function from a full 40 winks
Often, your brain feels clearest and refreshed when you first wake up in the morning. So, it might not be surprising to learn that sleep has been associated with improved cognitive function.
That’s according to a study reported on by MedicalNewsToday, showing that sleep could improve memory as well as performance in settings such as work and school, and focus, decision-making, and judgement.
Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and sleep expert, reports similar findings. As taken from his introduction page on MasterClass, getting sufficient rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can improve recall and memory consolidation, and even help you improve with certain types of motor learning.
Sleep can be beneficial for your mental health
Alongside improving your cognitive abilities, sleep can be a positive factor in managing your mental health.
Mind shows how sleep and mental health can affect one another, noting how poor sleep can trigger poor mental health, and vice versa.
According to the mental health charity, having problems sleeping can lead to:
- Increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts
- Increased risk of psychotic episodes, including mania, psychosis, and paranoia
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation.
So, by getting enough sleep, you may be better positioned to positively manage your mental health and prevent these symptoms.
Getting enough slumber can offer various physical benefits
Beyond benefits to the brain, research reported by sleep information website SleepFoundation.org shows that sleep can help your body, too.
For example, one study found that it can allow your heart to rest, as well as giving cells and tissue a chance to repair.
Furthermore, your body produces cytokines when you sleep, a hormone that assists in the growth and activity of cells in your immune system. As a result, it can help to prevent illness before it occurs, and fight illness when you are sick.
SleepFoundation.org also reports on a range of studies that show a link between quality sleep and improved athletic performance. From male basketball players improving sprints and shooting, to male and female swimmers recording faster reaction and turn times and reporting less sleepiness and fatigue, various athletes have found that sleep is a powerful tool in getting the most from their bodies.
While you might not be playing professional basketball or swimming competitively, you no doubt want to feel as good in your body as you possibly can. These studies suggest that sleep may allow you to do exactly that.
Not getting enough sleep could increase your risk of illness and disease
A rather strange quirk of our relationship with sleep as a society is how some people associate less sleep with greater productivity. Indeed, as the BBC reports, former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was famed for her ability to function on just four hours of sleep.
However, while this might have been good enough for Mrs Thatcher, research now suggests that not getting sufficient sleep could increase your risk of a range of serious illnesses and diseases.
According to sleep experts quoted in Metro, regularly getting less than six hours sleep a night can result in:
- Increased risk of serious cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, stroke, and heart attack
- Weakened immunity
- Menstrual irregularities
- Weight gain
- Lower productivity.
When you consider that a good night’s sleep could potentially reduce your risk of issues like these, it might mean that making sure you spend enough hours in bed is a good use of your time.
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This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.