Sleep: everyone needs it, yet many people in our culture today make it a point to brag about how little they get. With constant access to work via our phones, side hustles always waiting to be done, and social media to distract us, it’s easy to push sleep to the wayside.
The problem has gotten so bad, that one in three adults aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep. It’s a given that not getting enough sleep can make you feel exhausted. But, that’s it, right?
The Many Benefits of Sleep
Many think sleep can be replaced by an extra cup of coffee or a power nap at their desk. Yes, coffee will make you feel energized for a bit. And that nap can help you out for a brief period. Your body needs so much more, however.
When it comes to the benefits of sleep, they go well beyond feeling rested. (Although, who would complain about feeling rested?) Here are some additional perks of sleep that are both important, and unexpected.
You Heal Faster with Sleep
The U.S. military did a study in which two groups of people with equal nutritional profiles were separated. Each group had the same flesh wounds, while only one of the groups got a full night’s rest.
Despite both groups having the same nutrition, the group with more sleep actually healed faster in every instance. So, outside of feeling rested, sleep can actually leave your body in better shape to heal from injuries.
You’re Less Stressed
It’s easy to be stressed in today’s go-go society. Throw in a lack of sleep and you have a recipe for a stress-fueled disaster.
Recent studies have found that failure to get enough sleep can actually make someone 21% more likely to experience stress. So, not only are you exhausted when you miss out on sleep, you’re also more likely to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Put yourself in the right headspace by getting some shuteye!
Your Heart is Healthier
While one night of missed sleep isn’t going to be the end of the world, consistently missing out on sleep can put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. All of these conditions have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks.
Do your heart a favor and get your seven to eight hours of sleep tonight.
You Have a Better Memory (And Learn Faster)
How many times have you or someone you know stayed up late to “cram” for a test? While you may get some extra reading in, a lot of that information is likely going in one ear and out the other.
Studies have found that sleep plays an integral role in the storage of new information. When you learn something new it goes through three phases: acquisition, consolidation, and recall or recollection.
When your brain is sleep deprived it can actually have a harder time with consolidation, as this is the only phase that takes place during sleep. Failure to properly consolidate can result in information and memories being murky, or not sticking for the long term. In short, you need a proper night’s rest if you plan on learning as much as you can and remembering all those precious moments.
Getting a Good Night’s Rest
It’s pretty clear that sleep is important to your body’s health. Still, life is busier than ever and rife with distractions. Actually getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep can feel impossible.
Fortunately, there are some changes you can make that will help you get a better night’s rest as early as tonight.
- Avoid Your Phone: Smartphones and many other electronic devices emit a blue light. This light can disrupt your brain’s ability to achieve REM sleep, which is the deepest and most restorative part of sleep. To prevent this, stop using your phone an hour before bed. If you have to check it, make sure you have the night light or blue light filter on.
- Skip That Drink: Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it’s actually giving you a poor quality sleep. Alcohol has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to sleep properly, hence why you often feel so sleepy in the morning after drinking. Weekends can be fun, but skip that drink before bed on the weeknights.
- Take a Breath: We could all stand to take a deep breath every now and then. Deep breathing can help calm your heart, lower your blood pressure, and put you in a better mental space to fall asleep. So, after your head hits the pillow, take in some nice deep breaths for a minute or two.
- Pass On the Nap: Naps can be tempting, and sometimes they’re just what you need. But, a nap that’s too late in the day can destroy your chances of falling asleep at night. If it’s getting late in the day and you find yourself wanting a nap, skip it and opt to go to sleep an hour earlier instead. Your body will thank you.
Sleep deserves to be given a higher priority, and you deserve a better night’s rest. Give yourself the sleep you need and your mind and body will both be healthier for it. To help you extend your life with sleep, Bestow has created this visual that details the many ways sleep can impact your health and how you can get more mileage out of your night’s rest. Now, go get some sleep!
- Naturally Living Longer with Sleep - August 7, 2019
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