Too many of us fight sleep, not wanting to miss anything. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, there are consequences when you don’t get enough sleep. Here are eight health reasons why you should turn off the light (and the TV and tablet) earlier tonight:
- Your immune system will work better.
We know that sleep is necessary for a normal functioning immune system. Numerous studies have shown that our immune system works best when we get adequate sleep. In fact, several studies have demonstrated poor responses to vaccines for influenza and hepatitis when subjects were sleep deprived.
- Your memory will improve, and your golf game may be better.
It has been fully demonstrated that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation. Actually, when research subjects got a good night’s sleep after learning new information, they performed much better on testing than those who did not sleep. This pertains to factual memory (also referred to as declarative memory), as well as procedural memory, such as learning to ride a bike or swing a golf club.
- You’ll feel better emotionally.
We know that chronically sleep-deprived people have a much higher incidence of anxiety disorders and depression. This is probably due to sleep’s critical role in emotional processing, which appears to mainly take place during REM (dream sleep) but is by no means confined only to this stage of sleep.
- Your brain will be “cleaner.”
As I point out in my book, Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, it is during sleep that our brain performs several regenerative processes. The brain’s neuroplasticity – the ability to from new pathways and connections – is very much sleep dependent. Additionally, housekeeping chores, such as clearing out various neurotoxins that build up in the brain during the day, occur at a rate ten times greater during sleep.
- You’ll help repair and grow new tissue.
It is during sleep that we produce most of our growth hormone. In fact, this production is most closely linked to deep or slow-wave sleep. In children, this is intimately linked with their growth. In adults, it is very important in tissue repair. If you are a body builder or an athlete, it is crucial to get enough sleep to allow your musculoskeletal system to restore itself.
- You’ll help stabilize your blood sugar level.
We know that sleep-deprived people have a higher incidence of diabetes. This is because sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance. As a result, insulin is unable to get into cells and exert its influence. In recent papers, the American Diabetes Association has been stressing the importance of sleep in preventing and treating diabetes.
- You just may lose weight.
Want to reduce that waistline? Get seven to eight hours of sleep. Insufficient sleep leads to excessive production of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite-promoting hormone. It also impedes the production of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.
- You may live longer.
Study after study has shown that those of us who chronically sleep less than seven hours a night do not live as long. We are far more likely to develop high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. As a result, we have a shorter lifespan.
All of these reasons add up to one thing: We need to make sleep a priority. Unfortunately, some consider sleep to be a waste of time. Just the opposite is true. Sleep is critical for your emotional and physical well-being, and there is no substitute. Get more sleep, starting now.