People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is important.
1. Poor Sleep Can Make You Fat
Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain.
People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep.
In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
In one massive review study, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively.
The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise.
If you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial.
Bottom Line: Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.
2. Good Sleepers Tend to Eat Fewer Calories
Studies show that sleep deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories.
Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.
This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.
Bottom Line: Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
3. Good Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function.
This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.
All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
A study on medical interns provides a good example.
Interns on a “traditional schedule” made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
Another study found short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.
Good sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to improve problem solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.
Bottom Line: Good sleep can maximize problem solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
4. Good Sleep Can Maximize Athletic Performance
Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance.
In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental well-being.
Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women.
A study of over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activities.
Bottom Line: Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.
5. Poor Sleepers Have a Greater Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
We know that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many risk factors.
These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
A review of 15 studies found that short sleepers are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.
Bottom Line: Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
6. Sleep Affects Glucose Metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity.
In a study of healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of pre-diabetes.
This was then resolved after 1 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 increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Bottom Line: Sleep deprivation can cause pre-diabetes in healthy adults, in as little as 6 days. Many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes risk.
7. Poor Sleep is Linked to Depression
Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders.
It has been estimated that 90% of patients with depression complain about sleep quality.
Poor sleep is even associated with increased risk of death by suicide.
Those with sleeping disorders, such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea, also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.
Bottom Line: Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder.
8. Sleep Improves Your Immune Function
Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
One large 2-week study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the virus that causes colds.
They found that those who slept less than 7 hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.
If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night could be very helpful. Eating more garlic can help too.
Bottom Line: Getting at least 8 hours of sleep can improve immune function and help fight the common cold.
9. Poor Sleep is Linked to Increased Inflammation
Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in the body.
In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage.
Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases.
One study observed that sleep deprived patients with Crohn’s disease (a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines) were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well.
Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in sufferers of long-term inflammatory issues.
Bottom Line: Sleep affects the body’s inflammatory responses. Poor sleep is strongly linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase the risk of disease recurrence.
10. Sleep Affects Emotions and Social Interactions
Sleep loss reduces our ability to interact socially.
Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests.
One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness.
Researchers believe that poor sleep affects our ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.
Take Home Message
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.
You simply can not achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.
Here are some top tips for getting good sleep from Nutrition Breakthroughs:
Tip # 1 – We live in an electronics-oriented world, from computers, to cell phones, to texting, to reading books on tablets. These tools help increase our efficiency and ability to work and learn and communicate, but when it comes to getting good sound sleep, they can interfere.
One study from a university in New York found that exposure to light from electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about twenty two percent. Melatonin is a hormone made in the brain that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle.
It is present in higher amounts at night. The researchers recommend shutting off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime and doing some relaxing things before bed.
Tip # 2 – Regarding sounder, deeper sleep resulting from taking walks, studies at the University of Arizona have found that walking more than six blocks a day at a normal pace significantly improves sleep at night for women. Scientists suspect that walking helps to set our biological clock into a consistent sleep pattern.
Walking can help increase “endorphins”, which are protein-like chemicals made in the brain that can have a relaxing effect, a pain-relieving effect, and can also reduce stress and increase well-being.
Tip # 3 – Sometimes hunger can strike at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and keep one awake. If this occurs, eat something with high protein such as turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid (a component of protein) that has a calming effect. According to Ray Sahelian, M.D., “Tryptophan ….can be converted at night into melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.”
As a note, concentrated tryptophan capsules are not recommended as they can create grogginess in the morning and take some time to wear off. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.
Tip # 4 – When taking natural sleep aids, it’s good to remember that each person is a unique individual and doing some experimenting with the dosage can be instrumental in achieving success. At first, err on the side of taking too little rather than too much.
Another thing to keep in mind is that natural aids are not drugs and they may not work immediately with the first dose or even the first few doses. It can take up to a couple weeks to see results.
James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes: “A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.”
In one study published in the European Neurology Journal, researchers found that calcium levels in the body are higher during some of the deepest levels of sleep, such as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. In the study, taking calcium restored normal sleep patterns.
One example of a mineral-based sleep remedy is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This sleep aid contains highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. The ingredients are delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making them more easily assimilated than capsules or tablets and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference. I was regularly waking up at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days use my sleep improved quite a lot. I wake up once a night to go to the bathroom, but the great thing is, I then fall back asleep and sleep several more hours. This has been a great improvement.”
In summary, take the tips of recent research studies and take a walk each day, put the computers and cell phones away an hour before bedtime, and do something relaxing before bed. Keep a high-tryprophan snack next to your bed at night, and use an effective form of calcium and magnesium for a deeper, longer, less interrupted night’s sleep.
For more information on Sleep Minerals II, visit this page.
Article source for the 10 Healthy Reasons to Get Good Sleep: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important