Have you ever felt like you got up on the wrong side of the bed? Perhaps you slept too little, or simply had a poor quality of sleep last night. You have probably also heard the mantra of “get more rest” one too many times. Well, did you know that good sleep quality does more than perk you up during the day?
These days, it is increasingly common for people to be sleeping less than the recommended 8-9 hours per night, especially with more unconventional schedules and the screens that keep us up at night. Additionally, some people may find that they can never get a good rest no matter how long they sleep. If you’ve been skimping on shut-eye, find out more about what you’ve been missing out on in this article.
Slim Down With Sufficient Sleep
Although we often associate sleeping lots with being overweight, research has actually shown that poor sleep is linked to weight gain in both children and adults. In particular, those who sleep for an inadequate duration tend to put on more weight than those who get enough hours of sleep. This is believed to be due to the effect of hormones and a low motivation to exercise in those who do not get sufficient sleep. Not getting enough sleep is one of the risk factors that can potentially lead to obesity. As such, if you are aiming to cut down on those extra pounds, it’s essential that you get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
Sleep Well, Eat Less
Aside from reduced weight gain, those that sleep better also tend to eat less calories during the day. On the converse, those who are sleep-deprived usually have a bigger appetite and eat more calories, possibly because their sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in their appetite hormones. They produce greater amounts of the hormone ghrelin which stimulates appetite, and have smaller amounts of the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite. Thus, sleep deprivation is linked to poor appetite regulation, and can also play a part in weight gain.
Improve Concentration and Productivity With Good Sleep
We’ve all felt this before – if you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re probably finding it rough to concentrate the next day. Sleep is obviously important for your brain to function at its optimum – but what functions of the brain are impacted?
At least four areas of brain function will suffer from a lack of good sleep. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. In fact, one study found that not getting enough sleep actually resulted in the impairment of brain functions as if the sleep-deprived person was suffering from alcohol intoxication.
When sleeping, your brain internalizes the new information you’ve leaned by forming neurons that link pieces of information together. Sleep deprivation leaves the brain exhausted and unable to perform its duties as well, so it may be more difficult to absorb and remember new information.
Why are we usually advised to get enough sleep the day before an important examination, an interview or a competition? That’s because when we enjoy a good sleep, we wake up much more alert the next day, with better problem-solving ability and memory capacity than if we did not get enough sleep.
Poor Sleep Impairs Social Interaction
People are more likely to snap at you when they’re tired, but why? Well, together with impairing your brain functions, poor sleep negatively affects your social skills and ability to process emotional information. A sleep-deprived person is more likely to miss out on important social cues and misinterpret a situation. They are also more likely to be impatient and more prone to mood swings. This can result in poor decision-making and actions which the person later regrets.
According to a study, those that did not sleep had a reduced ability to recognize anger and happiness in others’ expressions. They also fared worse at emotional facial recognition tests. As such, to be at your best when interacting with others, it’s best to get some sleep the night before.
Power Up Your Immune System
Do you often fall ill? If so, maybe it’s time to pay attention to the cliché that sleeping more may help.
While we sleep, our bodies produce cytokines, which are substances meant to protect the body and fight foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Cytokines also help us to sleep better since they give the immune system more energy to defend against diseases. However, if we skip out on sleep, the immune system can’t build up these protective forces, resulting in a weakened system and a longer time to recover from illnesses.
Even losing a little sleep can be detrimental to your body’s immune system. A study found that those who slept 7 hours or less were almost three times as likely to develop a cold as compared to those who slept 8 hours or more. If you find that you’re often feeling under the weather, try making sure that you get enough rest each night. Also, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. It’s always best to listen to your body and have an early night if you aren’t feeling well, instead of trying to push yourself to stay up.
Poor Sleep Can Result in Increased Inflammation
The body repairs itself during deep sleep. However, if we skip out on sleep, we may actually suffer from inflammation and cell damage. In particular, poor sleep has been associated with inflammatory bowel diseases and long-term inflammation of the digestive tract. Additionally, one research concluded that people with Crohn’s disease who slept poorly were twice as likely to suffer a relapse as other patients who had better sleep.
Poor Sleep Increases the Risk of Diabetes
Getting insufficient sleep is said to affect the blood sugar levels, glucose metabolism rate and insulin sensitivity. In the general populace, sleeping very little has been linked to negative effects on blood sugar levels. This happens because sleep deprivation prompts the body to release a higher amount of insulin after eating. These increased insulin levels result in fat storage and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study was conducted on healthy young men to observe the effects of poor sleep on their health. After sleeping four hours per night for six nights in a row, they were found to exhibit symptoms of prediabetes. These symptoms disappeared a week after they increased their sleep duration.
Are you convinced about the many benefits having a good sleep can bring? Even if you have not been sleeping well, there’s no time like the present to catch up on those lost hours and give your body a rest. Besides, having a good sleep always helps to rejuvenate the body and make you feel (and look) a lot better in the morning.