Adequate sleep is one of the pillars of health. Although doctors and specialists agree that quality sleep has an immense influence on overall health and wellness, the culture doesn’t seem to prioritize their opinion.
Some call sleep the “cousin of death.” The opinion that rest and sleep are synonymous with laziness is ridiculous. You can’t think, function, or work your best without it.
Sleep impacts virtually every component of your health. It’s required for optimal mind and body function, playing a role in memory, strength, immune health, and mood. Here’s a selection of some of the specific ways sleep might help you.
Mental Health: Roughly 7–9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night can help optimize memory, concentration, productivity, and other aspects of overall cognition.
Further, adequate sleep is associated with a lower risk of depression, better mood, and enhanced emotional and social intelligence. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that people receiving adequate sleep expressed greater empathy.
These findings suggest sleep can influence outlook, which can also affect physical and mental health.
Heart Health: Sleep has been repeatedly shown to play a role in heart health. Research has suggested sleep may help regulate blood pressure, potentially allowing it to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Indirectly, sleep may influence heart health by regulating hunger hormones. When you’re getting enough sleep, therefore, you may be less likely to feel hunger and give in to cravings that promote weight gain.
Less Inflammation: There also links between sleep and inflammation. Low-level sustained inflammation is associated with a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
There is also research to suggest that sleep deprivation is linked with inflammatory bowel diseases.
Enhanced Immune Health: Sleep helps your tissue repair, regenerate, and recover. Your immune system is a huge beneficiary of this. There is evidence to suggest people with better quality sleep have greater success fighting infections.
Just think of how you treat a cold. A couple of good night’s sleep, coupled with naps, will usually get you past an infection.