Much research shows that a good night’s rest is critical for proper memory, performance and health. In fact, it is just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in today’s society, and accounts for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year.
The quality and length of sleep you receive every night can have a profound impact on your quality of life and overall health. According to Dr Guy Meadows, a leading UK sleep expert, “Sleep is a time for the body to heal, renew and eliminate toxins from the skin. When sleep is reduced, so is the body’s ability to carry out these functions.”
The mind and body both need to have enough rest if they are going to be able to function at an optimal level of concentration the day after. Good sleep is restful, uninterrupted and at least six-hour duration. If there is a lack of sleep, then the brain, memory and intricate functions of the mind will end up with the person being unable to get through the day.
Research by the Sleep Council have shown that almost half of Britons don’t get enough sleep. It has also been estimated that 40 million Americans per year deal with over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report experiencing sleep issues a few nights a week or more.
Here are 11 important health benefits researchers have found about getting adequate sleep.
Lack of sleep makes you fat
According to research, sleep deprivation reduces the level of leptin that is produced in the body. Leptin is a hormone that is crucial to weight control because it regulates the body’s appetite and hunger signals. Consequently, people who suffer from insomnia tend to have a bigger appetite and consume more calories than those who get adequate sleep.
In a study published in the journal SLEEP, participants in the study didn’t actually report feeling hungrier when deprived of sleep, but both men and women tended to overeat by 300 calories. This is why sleep deprivation is recognized as one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
Lack of sleep damages your skin.
It’s not just a cliché; beauty sleep is real! Whether you are sixteen or sixty, a good night’s rest is absolutely essential if you want your skin to remain young, fresh, healthy and radiant. A 2015 study found that sleeping for just six hours a night over several weeks could trigger premature aging of the skin and permanent discoloration.
According to Dr Lancer, Los Angeles dermatologist to the stars, “Insomnia can make a person look ten years older because of stress-induced changes in facial tissue. Without enough deep sleep, the repair process of your skin will be slowed, resulting in ageing.” Skin damage due to insomnia will have long tem consequences for your looks and the way you feel about yourself.
Lack of sleep affects your ability to learn
Sleep plays a key role in the learning process and the ability to solve problems. A Harvard study found that the quantity and quality of sleep you get has a profound impact on your memory and your ability to learn. This is because a good night’s rest allows you to strengthen your memory or practice skills you have learned during the day – a process known as consolidation.
A 2010 published in the journal SLEEP also found that children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleeping disorders are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, which could lead to “significant functional impairment at school.” Another study also found that college students who didn’t get enough sleep suffered from worse grades than those who did.
Longer life: poor sleep leads to heart disease and stroke
Several recent studies show a connection between too little sleep and a shortened lifespan. In one of such studies carried out in 2010 of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.
A 2011 European Heart Journal review of 15 medical studies involving almost 475,000 people found that people with short sleep duration had a 48% increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease in a seven to 25-year follow-up period.
Furthermore, according to a sleep-oriented study conducted in the UK and Italy on 1.3 million people worldwide, people who were sleeping for less than six hours a night were 12 per cent more likely to have a premature death compared to sleeping the recommended six to eight hours.
Lack of sleep affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity
According to new animal research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, just one single night of sleep deprivation can cause as much insulin resistance as six months of being on a high-fat diet. In the study, sleep deprivation decreased insulin sensitivity by 33%. This is due to the fact that sleep can have an impact on blood sugar levels. As the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar levels increase, raising the risk of diabetic issues.
Poor sleep is linked to depression
It was previously assumed that people who struggle with depression and other mental conditions were unable to sleep at night as a result of the condition.
But research now shows this is probably not the case. A study of university students under the age of 25, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry found that it is probably sleep deprivation that is causing these issues and not the other way around.
According to the study, people with insomnia given cognitive behavioural therapy to help them sleep saw a fall in anxiety and depression of 20 per cent and were 10 per cent happier as a result.
Sleep boosts the immune system
Your immune system is what defends your body against disease. For it to function well however, it requires balance and harmony, and a big part of that comes from having a good night’s rest. During sleep, the body regenerates and calms down the immune system.
Research has shown that the quantity and quality of sleep we get has a direct impact on our immune system. Not getting enough sleep makes us more vulnerable to infections like colds, flu and cough.
Poor sleep makes you irritable, fatigued and affects social interactions
Lack of a good night’s sleep tends to make us irritable, fatigued and less social, while extreme sleep deprivation causes people to avoid social interactions altogether. This can have a subtle but important impact on our social lives because if you’ve slept poorly the night before, there is likely to be more conflict in the relationship the day after. In fact, a study by channel 4 revealed that one in three divorced parents have attributed sleep deprivation as a major factor in their separation.
Sleep deprivation causes inflammation.
Inflammation has been linked to numerous health concerns including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research shows inflammation is often increased in people with sleep disorders such as insomnia. In fact, a 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
Good sleep improves focus and boosts productivity
Sleep has been described as “the mind’s best friend” because of its ability to boost mental health and help the brain stay sharper. Sleep deprivation can impair your ability to focus clearly and poses a serious threat to your mood, your memory and more. Basically, if you’re not well rested, your minds will not be as sharp, and essential brain functions – including focus, concentration and memory, would all be severely impaired.