Getting horizontal is important for your health. No – not THAT kind of horizontal action (though that’s good for you, too!) – we’re talking about sleep. Most of us don’t get nearly enough sleep (helloooo, Moms with little kids, amiright?), and while we might joke about it to our friends, sleep deprivation is no laughing matter.
Read on to learn more about the ways sleep impacts your health and how YOU can spend more time between the sheets. You know…asleep.
10 Ways Your Sleep Impacts Your Health
1. Helps in Memory Formation
Sleep gives your brain a chance to process information and commit important details to memory. When you’re asleep, your brain sorts through everything you’ve learned or encountered during the day, retaining important information and discarding everything else. Think of it as your brain’s chance to sort through the piles of paperwork you’ve built up while awake. Sleep deprivation interrupts that process.
2. Improves Learning
While you’re asleep, your brain is working away, getting ready for the day ahead. Besides sorting through information and committing thoughts to memory, your brain is also making room for new information. Proper sleep can improve cognitive function and help you retain more of what you learn throughout the day.
3. Improves Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
We’ve already discussed sleep’s role in memory and learning. But a good night’s sleep can also improve other cognitive functions, like problem-solving and decision-making. Getting too few hours of shut-eye can lead to risky behavior.
4. Maintains Heart Health
Proper sleep can reduce your risk of cardiovascular issues like hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. One study found that even a small reduction in your average sleep (just one to two hours a night) can decrease your life expectancy! Happy hearts need plenty of Zzzz’s.
5. Helps Muscles Form and Recover
Our bodies need rest to recover from intense workouts. Our bodies generate new muscle growth AND help heal overworked muscles while we sleep. So if you’re feeling sore from those deadlifts, the best treatment might be your pillow.
6. Controls Hunger
Proper sleep is vital to hormone production and regulation, including keeping our hunger hormones in check. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies tend to produce more ghrelin (the “gremlin” that makes you feel hungry) and less leptin (which makes you feel full). Proper sleep can keep those hormones in check, making you less likely to overeat.
7. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Sleep also impacts insulin, which controls your blood sugar levels. Insufficient sleep can lead to higher than normal blood sugar, increasing your risk for diabetes and other complications.
8. Improves Fertility
While we’re on the topic of hormones, let’s talk about how sleep impacts fertility. Just as sleep helps regulate your hunger hormones and insulin levels, sleep disruptions can impact your reproductive hormones, too. If you’re trying to get pregnant, consider spending even more time in bed – er, sleeping, that is.
9. Boosts Your Immune System
One study found that people who regularly get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night are THREE TIMES more likely to catch a common cold. Proper sleep helps our bodies fight off infections and prevents inflammation.
10. Keeps Your Reactions Sharp
Have you ever parked your car and then realized you don’t remember anything about the drive? That could be sleep deprivation at work – and it can be dangerous. When your brain doesn’t get enough sleep, it can go into phases of “microsleep,” or partially sleeping while you’re awake. Microsleep can cause slower reaction times and lack of attention, sometimes leading to dangerous or deadly outcomes.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Nearly 20% of Americans report not getting enough sleep. If you’re among them, you are not alone. But never fear! The sleep expert types have some suggestions to help you drift off to Dreamland:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends!)
- Make sure your room is relaxing, cool, dark, and free from distractions.
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom. Avoid screens for at least one hour before bedtime.
- Get enough exercise during the day (but limit activity right before bedtime).
Sweet dreams from WodBottom!