7 benefits of a good night’s sleep

Healthy Living General Health Lifestyle Wellbeing
02 June 2020

Not getting enough sleep at night can leave you tired and cranky. And over time, a lack of sleep can affect more than just your mood in the morning.

Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for your health as regular exercise and a healthy diet with studies showing that getting the recommended hours of rest each day can help you improve your body and mind.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged 18-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep and adults aged 65 and over should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night.  

Improving your heart health, having a strong immune system and maintaining a good weight can be done with your eyes closed. All you have to do is sleep.

Here are seven benefits of a good night’s sleep:

1. Keeps your heart healthy

When you sleep, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease while you’re resting. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not giving your heart a chance to rest, which can increase blood pressure and therefore increase the risk for heart disease. By getting plenty of restful sleep, you’re encouraging a constant state of relaxation that can help reduce blood pressure and also help keep it under control.

2. Reduces the chance of inflammation

Inflammation can be a trigger for a number of autoimmune and chronic diseases and the quality of sleep you get can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. The less sleep you have, the more activated your nervous system can be. This means your body may be under more stress, which can lead to increased inflammation.

3. Keeps your immune system strong

A great way to boost your immune system is to eat the right food. However, sleep is also a powerful tool in making sure your immune system is working at full capacity. In a study conducted in 2011, the researchers found strong evidence that sleep enhances immune defence by promoting an immune response that can’t process during waking hours.

This response supports the formation of long-lasting immunological memories that make sure your body is targeting real threats to your health. If you feel like you’re run down or fighting a cold, make sure to rest up.

4. Keeps your mind sharp

When you are asleep, your brain is still busy processing and making connections between events, feelings, and memories. This is called memory consolidation and researchers have found that sleep plays an important role in this process. This is why, if you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, it’s hard to concentrate the next day, you can feel a bit foggy, and remembering details is very challenging. Sleep is a very important time for your brain, so make sure you’re getting some quality sleep, and you’ll remember and process things better the next day.

Sleep is a very important time for your brain, so make sure you’re getting some quality sleep, and you’ll remember and process things better the next day.

5. Improves mental health and emotional wellbeing

Another benefit of a good night’s sleep is an improvement to your mental health and emotions. Being tired can be draining and can heighten emotions. This in turn effects your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that getting some rest helps both mental and emotional resilience, while not getting enough sleep can create negative thinking and emotional vulnerability. Things can seem a lot harder and a lot worse when you’re tired and it’s easier to become overwhelmed. Try getting in the recommended zzz’s and come morning, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

6. Steadier blood sugar

A lack of sleep can affect blood sugar levels and reduce insulin sensitivity. A study published in the Archives of International Medicine Journal discovered that those sleeping less than the recommended amount of hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Another indirect effect of little sleep on your blood sugar levels can be from eating the wrong foods when tired. Reaching for sugary foods and drinks to boost energy is a common pitfall for the tired person and this can cause an undesirable spike in blood sugar levels.

7. Better weight control

As we get older, it can become harder to maintain a healthy weight. Our bodies go through the natural changes of aging and it may be more difficult to stay active or to exercise.

Sleeping doesn’t make you lose weight but it can help you keep your weight under control by regulating hormones that affect your appetite. Good sleep can also increase your resting metabolic rate, allowing you to naturally burn more calories.

Like most parts of life, there can be too much of a good thing. It is recommended to get an average of 8 hours sleep per night and getting any less could negatively impact your health. But this works both ways, sleeping too much can also impact you mentally and  physically.

Try setting a routine by going to bed at the same time every night and if you’re not naturally getting up in the morning, then set an alarm so you’re not oversleeping.

Sleep is often overlooked when thinking about your health but it’s one of the easiest ways to help make sure you’re feeling your best.