10 reasons why sleep is the key to a healthy life
People are talking about sleep more than ever, and for good reason. The modern world is fast-paced, stressful and full of high expectations. We want to achieve our potential, look good and feel good, but somewhere along the way we forget about the basics of getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep effects us tremendously, so here are ten reasons why you should remember to prioritise your sleep for a healthy life.
1. Bad sleep can actually make you gain weight
It may come as a surprise to you, but gaining weight is closely linked to poor sleep. It’s actually one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to obesity. Studies show that people who sleep too little tend to weigh much more than those who get enough sleep1.
In a larger study on the effects of sleep deprivation with both children and adult participants, the results were quite surprising. Of the children and adults who did not receive the daily recommended amount of sleep, 89% of the children and 55% of the adults were more likely to become overweight2. So don’t let your efforts at the gym go to waste, just because you’re not getting enough rest.
2. Sleeping well can improve productivity and concentration
Your brain is your epicenter and sleep is extremely important for it to function well. Your concentration, cognition, productivity and performance is reliant on your brain’s health, so getting good sleep is a must3. It has been shown that a good sleep improves problem-solving ability and memory performance in both children and adults6 7 8. A good night's sleep can really do wonders.
Not only does sleep deprivation make us feel less energetic and focused, one study found that sleep deprivation can have a similar degree of negative effects on your brain function as alcohol intoxication3.
In another study at a medical company, employees who worked 24 hours more than they should, made 36% more serious medical errors than employees on a schedule that allowed them to sleep more5.
3. Sleeping well at night makes you less likely to eat too many calories
It may sound a bit strange, but poor sleep actually increases our appetite and we tend to eat more calories when we have slept too little. What happens is that sleep deprivation interferes with daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and disrupts appetite regulation in the body9. The hormone that stimulates appetite (ghrelin) increases, while the levels of the hormone that reduces appetite (leptin) decrease10.
4. Good sleep can maximise athletic performance
In short, sleep has been shown to improve sports performance, and poor sleep quality has been associated with poor performance11. In a study of basketball players, more sleep led to significantly improved speed, reaction time, accuracy and overall mental well-being among the players12. Poor sleep quality led to higher tensions and confusion13. 10.
5. Poor sleep increases your risk of stroke and heart disease
As we can see, our sleep quality and the duration of your sleep is really important for our health. One study showed that people who do not sleep enough have a much higher risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7-8 hours per night14. So aim for those 8 hours!
6. Sleep improves your immune system
Many people think they can handle less than seven to nine hours of sleep, but it has been shown that even the smallest sleep loss has a negative impact on your immune system15. A study involving more than 150 healthy men and women aged 21-55 examined how sleep deprivation affects them when infected by a virus. They were monitored for two weeks and the study showed that those who slept less than 7 hours were almost three times more likely to get a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more16.
7. Lack of sleep increases the risk of type 2 diabetes
Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. Several studies have repeatedly shown that less than 6 hours of sleep per night increases the risk of type 2 diabetes18 19. In a study with healthy young men, symptoms similar to a precursor to diabetes occurred when sleep was limited to 4 hours per night for 6 consecutive nights. These symptoms disappeared a week after they changed sleep time back to normal17.
8. Poor sleep is linked to depression
Your mental health is also at stake if you don’t get your sleep! There is a strong correlation between poor sleep and mental health problems such as depression in several studies. In fact, about 90% of people with depression complain about their sleep quality20. To make matters worse, people suffering from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia are significantly higher represented among those suffering from depression than those without21.
9. Sleep affects your emotions and social interactions
You may have noticed that you’re more moody after a night of tossing and turning, Science supports this, many studies show that lack of sleep decreases your ability to interact socially and process emotional information22 23. Sleep deprivation also weakens the assessment of human emotions, making it difficult to distinguish anger from happiness, a study suggests24.
10. Sleep improves your memory
Do you forget a lot or are your memories a little blurred? The answer may well be that you do not get the sleep you need. Lack of sleep makes it more difficult for us to remember things we have learned or experienced. One study shows that even a single night of missed sleep has an effect on our ability to build new memories25.
Sleep also plays a very important role in consolidating our memory. One study showed that individuals who got a good night's sleep had an increase of 20.6% of long-term memory compared to a group that lacked sleep26.
As you have just read, sleep is the key to physical and mental health.
Are you curious about how to sleep better? Read our article about sleeping hacks and see what science has to say about sleeping better.
You may also want to check out our sleep supplement One Sleep, that can help ensure you get all the ZZZs you need.
(1) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2007.118 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/