A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for health. In fact, it is just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, the Western environment is interfering with natural sleep patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is important.
1. Poor Sleep Can Make You Fat
Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain. People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep . In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. In one massive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively . The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise. If you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.
BOTTOM LINE:Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.
2. Good Sleepers Tend to Eat Fewer Calories
Studies show that sleep deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation . This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.
BOTTOM LINE:Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
3. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
A study on medical interns provides a good example. Interns on a “traditional schedule” made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
Another study found short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.
Good sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to improve problem solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.
BOTTOM LINE:Good sleep can maximize problem solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
4. Good Sleep Can Maximize Athletic Performance
Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental wellbeing. Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women. A study of over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activities.
BOTTOM LINE:Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.
5. Poor Sleepers Have a Greater Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
We know that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many risk factors. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease. A review of 15 studies found that short sleepers are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night
BOTTOM LINE:Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.