We all know that a good night’s sleep is important for our functioning day-to-day, but we don’t usually realize just how critical it is for our overall health. As a matter of fact, sleep is just as essential as a healthy diet and exercise. It’s unfortunate, though, that most people are simply not getting enough sleep, especially good sleep.
America, we need to up our sleep game. Here’s why:
1. Good sleep improves concentration.
Sleep is vital for multiple brain functions, which include cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. All these functions are negatively affected by sleep deprivation, and a study on medical interns proves it. Researchers found that interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
Another study found that sleep deprivation can negatively impact some brain function aspects to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.
On the contrary, good sleep has been proven to improve problem-solving skills and enhance children and adults’ memory performance.
2. Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risks.
In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. After only one week of increasing sleep, the symptoms resolved. In the population at large, people sleeping less than six hours a night may be at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
These symptoms resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.
Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than 6 hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. Poor sleep leads to a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at a much greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.
4. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.
Sleep can have a significant impact on inflammation in your body.
Poor sleep is strongly linked to the digestive tract’s long-term inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease disorders.
In one study, researchers observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well. Researchers are now even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues.
5. Poor sleep can lead to weight gain.
People who don’t get enough sleep tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. In fact, not sleeping enough is one of the most decisive risk factors for obesity. In one extensive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively.
6. Poor sleep is linked to depression.
Many mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. An estimated 90% of people with depression complain about poor sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of suicide. People with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression.
7. Sleep improves your immune function.
Even a slight loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
One large 2-week study monitored the common cold development after giving people nasal drops with the cold virus. They found that those who slept less than 7 hours were almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.
Getting enough good sleep is paramount to our quality of health and life. Of course, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is a crucial component of our overall health. To be motivated to live our best lives, we all need to get some shut-eye and get a good night’s sleep.