Benefits of Sleep

Get a Little R-n-R! 12 Benefits of Sleep {Rejuvinate}

We all know we need to sleep. But other than resting our bodies, what does sleep actually do for us? Well, quite a bit actually. It not only energizes our bodies, it does the same for our mind. It also helps with our emotional state, among other things. If you’ve been wondering what the top health benefits of sleep are, check out our list below.

The Importance of Sleep

We all have a similar pattern. Night comes, we finish our current chore or favorite show, we climb into bed and try to sleep. But this doesn’t always work to our benefit. Sometimes we spend hours tossing and turning before sleep takes over. Or we fall asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow but still wake up groggy. So, what are we doing wrong? Well, first, we need to get the right amount of sleep. How much depends on our age. Babies need the most, between 12 and 16 hours. They do this a few hours at a time, both day and night. Toddlers need to sleep about 11 to 14 hours, most of this at night, with a morning and afternoon nap during the day.

Preschoolers become a bit more regular, with no naps to fall back on. They should be sleeping between 10 to 13 hours each night. Once kids start grade school at 6, they should be able to get by on 9 to 12 hours of sleep. This will help them stay focused during their classes. Though teenagers seem to sleep the most out of all these age groups, they really only need 8 to 10 hours. And once you hit adulthood, 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night is more than enough. Of course, this sleep must be quality sleep, with the proper patterns throughout the night.

Sleep Stages

sleepingThere are two types of sleep, REM and NREM sleep. REM, or rapid-eye-movement, is also known as active sleep. Experts believe that it is during this type of sleep that we dream. During these times, the muscles in our arms and legs are paralyzed. This keeps us from performing the actions of our dreams. NREM, or non-rapid-eye-movement, has 3 different stages. These are N1, N2, and N3. As we progress from N1 to N3, our brain waves slow down and become more synchronized. Unlike REM sleep, our eyes aren’t moving beneath our lids. When we hit N3, we are in our deepest sleep. 

Routines for Better Sleep

If you’ve noticed that you’re waking up tired and unhappy, you may need to change something in your routine. But this doesn’t just mean going to bed earlier. We need to keep our day and night habits healthy to ensure we have the best sleep possible.

Day Routine

There are a few things you can do during the day to help yourself get a better night’s sleep. The first thing is to add some exercise to your routine. Do your workout as early as possible instead of right before bed. You should also limit your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. Get outside for some fresh air. Don’t nap, or at least limit them to about 20 minutes. Drink alcohol in moderation since it can affect your sleep. If you’re hungry, eat a small snack before bed instead of a big meal. The nicotine in cigarettes can keep you awake, so if you smoke, try to quit. Or at least avoid them before bed.

Night Routine

As well as altering your daily habits, there are a few things you can do at night to help you sleep. First, make sure you have a comfortable bed and room. Use dark or blackout curtains to block out light from the windows. Set a bedtime and keep it every night. Keep food, electronics, TVs, and other distractions out of the bedroom. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, find something relaxing to do, like reading or meditating. When you feel sleepy, lay down again and try to sleep.

Benefits of Sleep

#1 – Weight Loss

weight loss

After a terrible night’s sleep, you may not have the energy to work out. But skipping this once in while isn’t the only way insufficient sleep affects your weight. Those who aren’t getting enough sleep at night are at a much higher risk of obesity. This is because sleeping less than is recommended can affect your hormones. Studies have shown short sleep reduces your leptin levels. This hormone normally suppresses your appetite, so altering it can affect hunger.

It also increases the ghrelin levels in your body. Ghrelin stimulates your appetite, so more of it in your system means you feel hungry even if you aren’t. Together, these alterations can cause an increased risk of weight gain. And unfortunately, your body won’t be craving the healthy fruits and vegetables. Instead, you’ll seek out empty calories, fatty foods, and plenty of carbs. To keep your hormones at their optimum levels, the first thing to do is get the proper amount of sleep. Follow a routine, making sure you are exercising and getting some fresh air. And try to keep those unhealthy foods out of the house. This way, if you do have a bad night, you won’t have easy access to them.

#2 – Diabetes:

diabetes

Diabetes is sometimes thought of as a disease for the obese members of society. But it can affect the skinny people of the world as well. And your sleep habits may have something to do with this disease. There has even been some evidence that a lack of sleep can lead to type 2 diabetes. One study tracked insulin and glucose levels in a group of healthy young men. They were given specific sleep patterns to follow. This started with 2 nights of 8 hours of sleep. The men were allowed only 4 hours of sleep for the next five nights. The last 2 nights they were back to 8 hours of sleep.

During the period of sleep deprivation, glucose levels decreased, while insulin levels increased. This means the insulin-to-glucose level was elevated. Too much insulin and not enough glucose could result in reduced insulin sensitivity. Eventually, this could lead to type 2 diabetes. The bright side is that during the sleep recovery nights, these levels returned to normal. So, having one or two bad nights won’t automatically cause diabetes. But prolonged periods of shorter sleep could lead to this disease.

#3 – Cardiovascular Health:

cardiovascular health

Getting a good night’s sleep can also affect your cardiovascular health. Those who don’t live by a proper sleep schedule can suffer serious consequences. It has been proven that just one night of short sleep can increase your blood pressure the next day. The higher your blood pressure is, the more damage it can do to your heart. It is linked to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Sleep also helps to reduce inflammation. One inflammatory protein, in particular, can be affected by short sleep. This is C-reactive protein, which can lead to heart attacks if the levels are too high. To avoid heart problems, stick to a regular sleep schedule.

This may be harder for some than others, though. People who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea may need some help. There are ways to help with these issues, like medicine or breathing apparatuses. If you are having difficulty with a sleep disorder, speak to a medical professional. They will be able to help you find the right treatment. Another thing to consider is getting too much sleep. This can also have negative effects on your cardiovascular health. So stay within the proper limits for your age to keep your heart healthy and strong.

#4 – Immune Function

immune function

Whenever you get a cold or another virus, one of the most common pieces of advice given by doctors is “get plenty of rest.” There is a reason for this. Sleep can actually help boost your immune system. If you aren’t getting enough of it, your body may not have the ability to fight infection. To prove this, researchers performed a study on 153 healthy adults. For 14 days, the subjects recorded their sleep patterns. Afterward, each one was given nasal drops containing a rhinovirus. They were monitored on the day before exposure and again 5 days afterward.

The subjects who slept less than 7 hours contracted the cold faster. In fact, the illness affected them almost 3 times more than those who slept 8 hours or more each night. This study also showed that the quality of sleep was also a factor. Those who slept well were usually able to fight off the symptoms faster than those who slept poorly. To make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep, be sure to set a proper sleep schedule. If you feel early cold symptoms coming on, you might even go to bed a bit early, to ensure your immune system is at its best.

#5 – Athletic Performance:

Athletic Performance

If you don’t get enough sleep, chances are you won’t feel like doing any kind of athletic activity. But even if you do get out there for your chosen athletic activity or sport, you likely won’t perform at your best. A recent study showed the effects of sleep on basketball players. Those who had increased amounts of sleep performed better during practices. This included both their speed during sprints and their shooting accuracy. As well as their physical performance, their mental abilities also increased. This improved their reaction time.

A lack of sleep affects the older members of society as well. Some elderly people have limited functions as it is. But even the spriest members can show decreased functions after short sleep cycles. Their neuromuscular performance can decrease. This includes grip strength and walking speed. But getting too much sleep didn’t help either. Doing so also decreased their mobility. This is why getting the right amount of sleep for your age is so important. This makes it easier to set a sleep schedule will ensure the right amount of healthy sleep. Then your athletic performance will never suffer.

#6 – Sexual Function: 

Sexual Function

There are many ways in which a lack of sleep can affect your love life. First, if you’re tired, you aren’t going to be interested in any type of amorous activity. Those with difficult jobs, either on the body or the mind, may rather spend their time relaxing on the couch. If you add sleep loss to the mix, this could put your sex life on hold indefinitely. Starting relationships may also be difficult if you’re too tired to go out on proper dates.

But there is another reason to make sure you get enough sleep. Men, in general, can be negatively affected by sleep loss. This is because their bodies produce testosterone during this time. This hormone helps drive the libido as well as giving him a proper erection. When men sleep less than 5 hours a night, their testosterone levels drop by 10-15%. Obstructive sleep apnea can also lead to erectile dysfunction. Thankfully, this condition can be treated before it becomes an issue. Using a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine lets you breathe easier. So, if you want a healthy sex life with your partner, make sure you get enough sleep every night.

#7 – Less Pain:

less pain

Whether you’re suffering pain from a recent injury or some form of chronic pain, sleep can help. The more sleep you get, the higher your pain threshold. Wounds also seem to heal faster when you get enough sleep, so your pain is decreased at a faster rate. But studies have also shown that those who suffer from insomnia may have more pain. This is because these people seem to develop chronic pain more often. The downside of this is that when you are in pain, it can be hard to sleep at all. And sometimes your sleep is disrupted if you happen to roll over onto your injured area.

So, how do you use sleep to help medicate your pain if you can’t get a proper night’s sleep? If the pain is especially bad and interfering with your sleep, try a pain reliever. Many of these also include some type of sleep aid. These serve double duty, decreasing the pain while knocking you out for the night. After a few days of great sleep, you likely won’t even need them anymore to sleep. And there should be less pain while you’re awake.

#8 – Headaches and Migraines:

headache

Headaches can be hard to deal with, whether they are mild pains or debilitating migraines. Of course, sleep loss isn’t the only thing that contributes to these painful ordeals. But there is some evidence that a lack of sleep can bring on a headache. One study included Danish people who suffered from occasional tension-type headaches. If they also suffered from insomnia, chronic headaches could eventually be the result. Another study showed that Norwegians who suffered from insomnia had similar issues. These people were judged headache-free. But it was predicted that this would change after 11 years. Follow-ups were believed to show both tension and migraine headaches in these individuals.

There were other studies that showed the same effects for those with insomnia. But if the insomnia was eliminated, the headaches and migraines decreased. If you’ve ever noticed that headaches are common after a rough night, you may need to rethink your habits. Try to reduce your caffeine intake, limit your time with electronics, and get to bed early. Over time, you may notice fewer headaches and migraines. And the ones you do have may not be as bad.

#9 – Healthy Skin:

healthy skin

It may not seem like sleep and skin are related. But the skin needs sleep just as much as the rest of your body does. Some early research states that chronic skin conditions are affected by sleep disorders. Of course, mood disorders also factored in. These mood disorders affected sleep habits. This then affected the prognosis and treatment of the skin issues. Another study showed the effects of certain skin functions after chronic poor sleep. The women showed more age signs, like dark under-eye circles, during this time. They also measured the skin’s ability to recover after being stripped of tape. The recovery was slower with less sleep. The third test exposed the women to solar ultraviolet light. They recovered faster from erythema after this exposure when they had slept well.

Along with these scientific tests, the women involved also completed a questionnaire. This dealt with the way they saw their own attractiveness after poor sleep. Those who slept well felt better about their appearance than those who had less sleep. So, not only does great sleep help your skin look its best and heal faster, you may also be happier with how you look.

#10 – Emotions and Mood:

emotions and mood

You may not think sleeping during the day instead of at night could lead to cancer. But there has been some evidence that this may be so. This is because working at night exposes you to light. This then suppresses your normal physiological melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that inhibits the growth of intestinal cancers.

Early studies have shown night shift work increases the risk of breast cancer. More recently, though, some evidence suggests it could lead to colorectal cancer, too. The data shows that working at least 3 nights a week each month for 15 years or more could increase this risk in women. Though 15 years is a long time, if you work at the same job your whole life this is something that could affect you. So, if it’s possible, limit your night shifts to 1 or 2 days a week, or find a job with only day shifts. This will allow you to get the right amount of sleep at the proper time, limiting your exposure to light. And make sure you follow a proper sleep schedule for a healthier body in every way.

#11 – Mood Disorders: 

mood disorder

When we don’t get enough sleep at night, we can be crabby and irritable the next day. But if our sleep loss is prolonged, it could lead more serious issues, like depression or anxiety. There is even evidence that depression is a common disorder for those with insomnia. To help decrease your risk of mood disorders, it is best to first speak with your doctor. They’ll be able to help you figure out if your changing mood comes from a lack of sleep or if other factors are involved. If more sleep is needed, they will also be able to determine the proper amount for your age. This way, you’ll be able to decide on a proper sleep routine.

Getting the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis may also help to reduce your stress level. This will make it easier to stay calm when performing even the most difficult tasks. And you won’t snap at your co-workers, boss, or family if you’re in a better mood. This way, those around you will be as happy as you are.

#12 – Brain Functions: 

brain functions

If you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may have noticed your mind isn’t working at its best. It is hard to concentrate on the tasks before you, dropping your levels of productivity that day. You may also find it harder to remember even the simplest things. Finding your keys or remembering that short grocery list will seem impossible.

There is even some evidence that shows that the amount of sleep you get can affect how you learn new things. Those who sleep well are much more capable of improving their skills at a new task. Those who are sleep deprived did not show improvement. This latter group even had trouble performing the task, even though they had done it once before. For kids in school, memory and concentration are a must to help them learn their lessons. This goes for all ages, from grade school to university. But adults also need to keep their brain functioning at its best. So, make sure you get to bed early in a distraction-free room.

Benefits of Sleep Final Thoughts

Resting our bodies is a must, no matter what our age is. It can help keep us functioning at our best. Sleep can also prevent illnesses from slowing us down. And sleep can help us focus our minds on the important things in life. That’s why having proper day and night routines are so important. If you are looking for more, check out our buyer’s guides.

Footnotes:

  • Heathline10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important
  • WebMD: 9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep
  • Business Insider: 23 Incredible Benefits Of Getting More Sleep
  • DreamsTop 10 Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep
  • NCBI: The association of sleep and pain: An update and a path forward

About the Author Emma O'Brien

I joined BloomGorgeous in 2014 and have been reviewing for them ever since. It's my passion and joy to help people thrive. I have had my up and down days with my my look and my mindset, it is our goal here to help people get through the rough times a little faster.