12 Incredible Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
I know what you’re thinking – sleep is already beyond vocabulary in its brilliance. You jump beneath the sheets and then tear a hole through time and space, arriving on the other side wreathed in an almost painfully warm and cosy cocoon the next day.
But it gets better. Sleep isn’t just fun to do, it’s damn good for you, too. Here’s 12 incredible benefits of sleep worth sleeping in for!
Sleep improves your mood
Better to head this one off at the start: if your natural disposition is akin to Oscar the Grouch, all the benefits of sleep may not help you. However, there is a lot of evidence around that states an appropriate amount of sleep can drastically improve your daily mood.
The less tired you are, the less aggravated, unfocused or emotionally unstable you’ll be throughout the day.
Sleep sharpens concentration
Remember in high school, you’d always be told to get to bed early, the night before an exam? And remember how time just never seemed to work that way, and you were always exhausted when it came time to face your academic fears?
There’s a relation there. One of the best benefits of sleeping is a well-rested, well-oiled mind and you’ll find it much, much easier to concentrate with one of those than a mind that’s tired from a poor night’s sleep.
Sleep helps you lose weight
The benefits of sleep extend well past your mind and mood – a good night of slumber can boost your weight loss efforts, too. On one hand – sleep influences how your eat – a natural hormone, leptin, generates that feeling of ‘fullness’ after a meal, prompting you to stop eating when you’ve had enough. The bad news is; when you don’t get enough sleep, your natural levels of leptin won’t restore and you’ll be more likely to snack and munch between meals.
The other side is simple exhaustion. Who feels like exercising after a night of turbulent sleep? Nobody.
And it’s not just that sleep influences weight-controlling factors like diet and exercise – there may be something about sleep itself that boosts weight loss efforts. In one study, researchers found that women who had either too much or too little sleep, poor quality sleep, or inconsistent sleeping schedules had higher body fat than women who got plenty of high quality sleep.
Sleep has also been linked to dieting success (or failure), with one study showing that of all the women participating in the same weight loss program, the women who got at least 7 hours of high-quality sleep every night increased their chances of reaching their weight loss goals by 33%.
So if you’re trying to slim that waistline, zzz’s will do you good.
Sleep to keep anxiety and depression away
The relationship between sleep and depression/anxiety is a vicious cycle. Those who tend to get little sleep, often display symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Once that door has been opened, it can be hard to close it again: these symptoms themselves can contribute to further lack of sleep, and so the spiral continues.
Healthy skin loves sleep!
There’s a good reason it’s called “beauty sleep” – just like the rest of the body, your skin heals and repairs itself from a day of hardship when you sleep. We’ve all seen the look of somebody who hasn’t had much shut eye – greasy, pale skin, maybe some irritation or dark, baggy eyes; there’s few quicker ways to age your skin than denying it sleep!
Regular sleep boosts memory
Regardless of your day to day operations, it’s difficult to imagine someone who won’t benefit from a sharp memory. With a steady, healthy sleep regime, studies have shown memory receptiveness to be vastly improved over those with very little mental rest – plus, this extra boost to the mind can even improve your creativity, and prod you on to finally create your masterpiece (a fantastic excuse for an extra five minutes, if ever there was one).
Sleep improves your physical performance
If you’re involved in any kind of sport or fitness regime, you’ll know that sleep is a hugely important part of your routine. When we exercise and push ourselves, we’re effectively damaging muscles, which crave a recuperating night’s sleep in order to start repairing.
Sleep your way to better sex
Thought sex was good before?
Many studies have shown that reduced sleep can contribute to a lacking libido and even lead to more substantial sexual issues (erectile dysfunction being the main contender). Regular sleep boosts the libido and raises those all-important testosterone levels… Your spouse will thank you. Unless you’re a snorer.
Sleep takes the strain off your body
Although everything still ticks over whilst we’re asleep, your body is running a sort of skeleton crew, because we’re not pushing it by engaging in any activities.
This lack of bodily stress has been known to improve cardiovascular activity, and lowers blood pressure, which can have hugely beneficial long term effects on your health.
Sleep can reduce the risk of diabetes
Some researchers have produced interesting data that suggests a lack of sleep can hamper your body’s natural glucose production – those who sleep for fewer hours per night were found to have lower rates of production, which can encourage health issues like diabetes over time.
Sleep keeps you safe on the road
It might seem a bit far-fetched at first, but think: how many times have you seen road signs declaring ‘Don’t drive tired’?
Tiredness accounts for a surprising amount of road accidents -in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tiredness caused more accidents than alcohol in 2009 (Health.com).
Sleep lowers your chance of illness
Just as a lack of sleep can drain our energy, and hamper muscle repairs – it can lower our immune system’s effectiveness. This is still a fairly untapped area of research; but it does make some logical sense. When we’re devoid of energy and rest, how can we expect to successfully fight off illness?
So, remember this list of excellent benefits that sleep bestows upon us every night; maybe write them down so you can rhyme them off the next time you sleep in for work.
Hats off to you if you’re reading this in bed.