Sleep often gets neglected in our busy lives – there is always something more important or more urgent to do than prioritizing a good night’s sleep. But when you sleep well you actually gain a surprising number of health benefits and you will really notice the difference when you get more sleep.
Sleep is the essential renewal process that helps all sorts of bodily functions from memory to mood, heart health to high blood pressure. If you’re not getting enough sleep you could be storing up health dangers for the future.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
It is easy to say “get more sleep”. Of course, we could equally say “get better sleep” – sometimes it is not the amount of time you spend in bed that matters, but the quality of sleep you are getting. Some people will be able to function very well and gain health benefits from a few hours of high quality sleep. Others will need to stay in bed for eight hours or more in order to get the quality sleep needed for maximum health benefits.
But in general, sleep experts say you should get eight hours a night, or at least seven hours if this is not possible.
Here are some of the surprising things that happen to your body and your mind when you’re sleeping soundly:
1) Your Heart is Healthier When You Get More Sleep
When you are sleep deprived, even on a minor level, over time it really affects your heart. Bad sleep and not enough sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
2) You Avoid Serious Disease
As well as helping you avoid heart disease, sleeping more can also help prevent serious conditions like diabetes. The effects of poor sleep often make an impact over time, but can change your body’s makeup after just a few months, so it is always worth setting up better sleep patterns.
3) Get More Sleep and Relieve Chronic Pain
You will probably know how much better you feel after sleeping well, and a good night’s sleep can also help to actually lower pain levels. If you are in chronic pain then sleep should be a priority. Of course, it can be very difficult to sleep when you are in pain. It is a little like a vicious cycle. But if you can manage to break the cycle with more sleep, you benefit by feeling better.
4) Clearer Focus and Concentration after More Sleep
Lack of sleep affects how your brain works and causes problems with attention span, cognition, and decision making. You’ll know that when you are lacking sleep you have problems working out sums, or listening to a lecture. More sleep equals better focus and concentration.
5) Build Better Immunity with More Sleep
Studies have shown that when you get less than seven hours sleep a night you are more at risk of getting sick from viruses like the common cold. Sleep seems to help build immunity and strengthens the immune response. Scientists don’t fully understand the link but there is no harm in trying it out and building up immunity benefits simply by sleeping more.
6) Less Stress with More Sleep
Being sleep-deprived actually causes your body to go into a state of stress. Your blood pressure rises. Stress hormones flow through your body. You feel more stressed and the stress has a physical impact on your body, which can cause serious problems for your health.
7) Improve Your Sex Life with More Sleep
It goes without saying that when you’re too tired, your sex life suffers. Also, some studies show that lack of sleep can result in lower testosterone levels in men. Getting a good amount of sleep increases your energy levels and promotes better stamina which can be used in other ways in the bedroom.
8) Control Your Sleep to Control Your Weight
One issue with lack of sleep is that it makes you less likely to exercise, to cook a healthy meal, and to avoid unhealthy comfort eating. In addition, lack of sleep causes levels of a hormone called leptin to drop. Leptin helps to make you feel like you are full. When you are lacking leptin you get hungrier and you crave less healthy foods.
9) Boost Your Memory with Better Sleep
And when you get more sleep your memory skills improve. Lack of sleep contributes to the brain failing to store memories from the day. You also have a greater chance of developing false memory when you lack sleep. If you are feeling forgetful and distracted, increase the hours you spend asleep and see how big a difference this makes to your memory and also your overall mood.