10 Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

10 Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

The benefits of getting enough sleep go beyond getting your beauty rest. To hit the ground running day after day, you need to recharge your body each night with a full and restful eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye. And it’s not just about avoiding grogginess the next day—regularly getting enough restful sleep influences all aspects of your life, from your physical health to your mental wellbeing.

Here are 10 ways that healthy, restful sleep will make your life dreamier!

1. Better Sleep = Better Mood

Man sleeping comfortably at night

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed can throw off your entire day. You tossed and turned all night, the sheets were too hot or too cold, and your mind just couldn't relax, so you found yourself lost in thought all night long. And you pay for this the next day when rather than being alert and chipper, you're groggy and moody from morning to night.

The struggle indeed is real—imagine trying to use your cell phone all day on only 20% battery. Your body will need to work harder to conserve and produce energy to power through your day…no wonder you're feeling so grumpy!

Want to wake up on the right side of the bed? Avoiding caffeine, high intensity exercise and electronic screens in the few hours before bedtime are among our favorite sleepy time tips. While you might miss your java and your social media scrolling, a proper bedtime ritual is necessary for you to get the full, restful eight hours of sleep your body requires. Waking up refreshed, happy and ready to take on whatever the day throws your way is one of the best benefits of getting sufficient sleep.

2. More Sleep, More Memory

Family taking pictures for memories

The health benefits of sleep go beyond just how your body functions throughout the day—a proper snooze session influences how your brain processes and keeps information.

Think of your brain like a computer—as you sleep, the new information and memories you make throughout the day are "downloaded" from your short-term memory and converted into long-term memory. Every time you go to sleep essentially is a "software update" for your brain!

Without the proper rest, your brain is not able to properly process everything that happened throughout the day, thus leaving behind important information…not to mention your precious memories. Not only going to sleep on time, but staying asleep throughout the night, are important to keeping your memories alive and well.

Taking melatonin to reset your body's internal clock is a great way to sync your circadian rhythm so you get the healthy sleep you need. You want to make memories that last a lifetime—so, it's crucial to form good sleep habits in order to keep your fond memories for years to come.

3. Sleep off the Pounds

Woman waking up after sleeping for energy

Did you know that the number on the scale may be related to the number of hours of sleep you get? When your body does not get the energy it needs from sleep, your levels of the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite, can become thrown off and you'll likely find yourself eating more—which does give you short term energy…but does not promote a healthy weight.

If you do have a night of not so good sleep, be aware that you're likely to overeat, and instead choose foods that will not only give you energy throughout the day, but keep your weight at bay: apples, quinoa, nuts and goji berries are all energy-boosting nibbles that won't lead to a sugar crash.

4. Sleep Away Stress

Resting man in hammock feeling stress-free

The benefits of sleep go beyond weight, memory and your overall mood. Getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can also help maintain healthy stress levels. Maintaining healthy stress levels can help support already-healthy blood pressure levels, and that's good for maintaining healthy heart function.

Not only that, but the sleeplessness/stress connection is a vicious cycle; when you are in a state of stress, your body releases hormones which inhibit you from falling asleep. This is why it's so critical to make sure that before bed, your body and mind are fully relaxed; quiet your mind and relax your body with calming breathing exercises and mindful meditation.

5. Better Sleep = Stronger Immune Response

Woman with poor sleep feeling under the weather

A well-rested body will be more empowered to fight off immune system challenges than one that's suffering from sleep deficiency—so stay strong all season long by getting those ZZZs.

Healthy sleep habits allows your body to rest and recharge while simultaneously repairing cells throughout the night. This is one reason why rest is such a critical part of recovery if you aren't feeling your best. It has a direct impact on your immune system function.

6. The Power of a Power Nap

Woman taking a cat nap on couch

As much as we all aspire for a full eight hours of quality sleep, occasionally stress or that late afternoon coffee run will get the better of us, and we miss out on a good night's rest. While nothing compensates for proper nighttime rest, a cat nap is a good way to play catch up. It's also a great idea if you need some extra energy (even if you slept just fine the night before).

But you need to be strategic about these short sleep sessions. Quick, shorter naps (30 minutes or less) rather than longer ones are the smarter snooze solution. By taking shorter naps you may support healthy stress levels, memory and cognition. Just make sure you nap smart…and do not forget to set an alarm!

7. A Good Night's Sleep = A Better Workout

Couple doing yoga on mats

Exercise is essential when it comes to maintaining optimal health, but sleep deprivation can inhibit your ability to perform at your prime. Proper sleep produces optimal energy levels—giving you more grit and grind to tackle whatever workout you choose.

The timing of your workout matters—a morning or midday sweat session has been linked to better shuteye. Avoid intense workouts right before bed to ensure that you also fall asleep faster as well.

8. Sleep Improves Social Skills

Older grouping smiling and having fun

Normal social interactions may feel forced or fuzzy when you don't get enough sleep—plus, exhaustion may inhibit your ability to interpret social cues correctly and properly process other's emotions. Tired people may also feel lonelier and less willing to socialize.

By getting enough quality sleep at night, you'll not only reap all the health benefits of getting enough sleep, but your relationships with your friends and loved ones will also flourish as well.

9. More Sleep, More Productivity

Woman writing to-do list for the day

All of this talk of sleep might sound great, but let's get real: the reason why you might not be getting adequate sleep is that there simply aren't enough hours in the day to get to everything on your to-do list. You have a lot on your plate, and perhaps you even have issues sleeping because you're thinking about all of the work you need to tackle tomorrow.

Ironically, adequate rest will help you work more efficiently. Sleep is vital for all aspects of brain function, including concentration, productivity and performance. Insufficient sleep can impact all of these essential brain functions—leaving you with cloudy judgment and a lack of focus.

10. Better Mental Health Starts with Sleep

Man holding bike smiling after good sleep

The health benefits of sleep go beyond your physical health—in fact, being well-rested is a major contributing factor to overall mental wellbeing.

This is for all of the reasons we've already hit on: sleep deprivation, or poor-quality sleep, yields low levels of energy, increased appetite, less productivity, decreased physical activity, decreased social interactions and more stress. All of these factors play an important role in your overall mental health.

So don't think of sleeping in as being lazy—if anything, it's an investment in a better version of you. And that's something worth dreaming about!

 

References