The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is a vital component of well-being, yet one that the majority of the population seems to take for granted. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 40 million Americans deal with sleep disorders and 60% of all adults have sleep issues three or more nights per week. The majority of these conditions go untreated, and almost half of all Americans experience a lack of sleep severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. As such, we felt it vital to point out some of the many benefits that adequate sleep provides:
- Memory Improvement – During sleep, our mind conducts a process called “consolidation.” During this process, our minds work on absorbing information observed throughout the day. Without sleep, our mind has a reduced capacity to remember our daily activities and experiences. This is why ‘all-nighters’ are a thing of the past. Studying all night won’t do you any good without sleep, and pushing through a lack of sleep doesn’t benefit your memory either. Sleep also helps with attention, which may be of particular interest to those that have attention deficit issues.
- Longer Lifespan – A lack of sleep has been associated with shorter life spans according to numerous studies. Not only have those studies conclusively shown that adequate sleep increases one’s longevity, they have shown that it additionally improves one’s quality of life.
- Reduce Inflammation Issues – Inflammation issues are related to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, various forms of arthritis, and premature aging. Studies have shown that those who get less than six hours of sleep per night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins compared to those who get more than six hours. Research also found that those who got less than six hours of sleep per night had higher blood levels of C-reactive protein, which is associated with risk of heart attack.
- Improve Creativity – While sleep helps the mind to conduct its process of consolidation, it also helps to restructure and reorganize those memories as well. Research from both Boston College – as well as Harvard University – discovered that the emotional mechanisms of a memory are amplified during sleep. As such, adequate sleep has been shown to enhance both creativity and the processes associated with creativity.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Research conducted by the University of Chicago found that those who got adequate amounts of sleep each evening lost more body fat during their diet, whereas those who were sleep deprived lost more muscle than fat during their diets. Since muscle is directly linked to our metabolic process, this discovery showed that adequate rest is paramount for those looking to lose weight.
- Alleviate Depression – While the exact cause of depression is still not fully understood by doctors, one thing that is certain is that sleep helps to regulate emotions and alleviate depression. Getting adequate rest improves one’s mood and overall quality of life, increasing one’s energy levels and enhancing the feeling of overall well-being. In some studies, adequate rest had been shown to be even more effective than some anti-depressant medications. So, to keep your mood elevated, ensure that you get an adequate amount of sleep each evening to leave you refreshed the following morning.
As you can see sleep is a vital part of our daily function, mood, energy and memory. Proper sleep also helps us stay healthy and live a longer and more fulfilling life. If you have trouble sleeping, talk with your healthcare professional and come up with a plan that facilitates sustainable and healthy sleep behavior.