Alaska Sleep Education Center

The Importance of Sleep on Your Health and Well-Being

Posted by Kevin Faber on Mar 19, 2021 2:54:00 AM

Beautiful little girl smiling on bed wile her family sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to maintain good health. In fact, sleep is just as important as exercising regularly and following a healthy, balanced diet. Unfortunately, there are more than a few things that may impact your natural sleep patterns. Today, people of all ages are sleeping much less than they did in the past, with sleep quality being reduced, too. If you want to achieve optimal health, then getting proper sleep and knowing the answer to the question of what time should I wake up are essential. Keep reading to find out the specifics of why getting a good night’s rest is so important.


Insufficient Sleep Correlates With Higher Body Weight

Poor sleep and weight gain are directly linked. People who don’t sleep enough often weigh more than those who get plenty of sleep. Shorter sleep duration is one of the main risk factors for weight gain and obesity. According to one study, adults and children with shorter sleep duration were between 89% and 55% more likely to become obese.

The impact of sleep on weight gain can be mediated by several factors, including the motivation to exercise and hormones. If you want to lose weight, make sure you get plenty of sleep.


People Who Get Plenty of Sleep Eat Less

Studies have proven that sleep-deprived people usually have a bigger appetite and are likely to eat more calories. Periods of sleep deprivation can disrupt daily fluctuations in your appetite hormones and result in poor appetite regulation. This is due to the body producing higher levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone that stimulates your appetite, and reducing the levels of leptin, which is the hormone responsible for suppressing the appetite.


Quality Sleep Improves Productivity and Concentration

Sleep is an essential part of different brain functions. This includes things like performance, productivity, concentration, and cognition. Each of these things can be negatively impacted by cases of sleep deprivation.

A good example of this was seen in a study that involved medical interns. The interns who followed a traditional schedule with extended work shifts of over 24 hours made up 36% more serious medical mistakes than interns working on a schedule that allowed them to get more sleep. Another study discovered that short periods of sleep could have a negative impact on some parts of brain function. In fact, the results of this were similar to alcohol intoxication. With good sleep, in the reverse, a person achieves better problem-solving skills and enhanced memory performance. This was proven true for both adults and children.


Sleep Can Improve Athletic Performance

Sufficient rest can also positively affect someone’s athletic performance. In a study that involved basketball players, longer sleep helped to improve reaction times, accuracy, mental well-being, and speed. Reduced sleep duration has also been related to functional limitations and poor exercise performance in many older women. According to a study that involved 2,800 women, it was discovered that those who did not get as much sleep experienced lower grip strength, slower walking, and more trouble when trying to handle activities independently.


Poor Sleepers Have Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease

Sleep duration and quality have a huge impact on a person’s health. These factors are linked to an array of chronic diseases, which include heart disease. In a review of 15 different studies, it was proven that people who are not getting adequate sleep are at a much higher risk of stroke or heart disease than those who can sleep for seven to eight hours per night.


Sleep Impacts Type 2 Diabetes Risk and Glucose Metabolism

Engaging in experimental sleep restriction showed effects on blood sugar levels while reducing insulin sensitivity. According to a study involving healthy young men, restricting sleep to just four hours per night for six nights resulted in prediabetes symptoms. These symptoms seemed to resolve themselves after a week of the subjects getting more sleep. Poor sleep habits have also been directly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar for adults. If you sleep under six hours per night, it has been proven that you are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.


Inadequate Sleep Is Linked to Depression

Some mental health conditions, including depression, have been linked to sleeping disorders and poor sleep quality. It is estimated that more than 90% of people who have depression complain about their sleep quality.

Also, poor sleep has been linked to an increased likelihood of death due to suicide. If you have a sleeping disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia, you are also more likely to experience depression at some point.


Quality Sleep Helps Improve Immune Function

Even small losses of sleep can impair your body’s immune function. A two-week study was conducted that monitored how the common cold developed after people were given cold virus nasal drops. Those who were sleeping under seven hours were up to three times more likely to actually develop a cold than those who were getting eight hours of sleep or more per night. If you get regular colds, sleeping a minimum of eight hours per night could be extremely beneficial. Another cold-fighting tip is to eat more garlic.


Increased Inflammation May Occur with Inadequate Sleep

Sleep can have a huge impact on the amount of inflammation in your body. Sleep loss can activate some of the most undesirable markers of inflammation and lead to cell damage. Poor sleep is also linked to long-term inflammation in the digestive tract and can lead to more serious conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. In fact, based on one study, people who had Crohn's disease who were sleep-deprived were up to twice as likely to suffer a relapse than patients who got plenty of sleep. Researchers are now making the recommendation of a sleep evaluation for individuals with long-term inflammatory problems.


Sleep Impacts Your Social Interactions and Emotions

When you lose sleep, it impacts your ability to socialize. This has been studied using emotional facial recognition tests. According to one study, people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognize happiness and anger expressions. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can impact your ability to recognize social cues and process emotional information.

As you can see, sleep impacts your health and wellness in many ways. Because of this, it is up to you to ensure you are getting plenty of sleep each day. Doing this means you will not only feel better but that you will be healthier as well. If you aren’t sure how your sleep patterns are affecting your health, it may be time to talk to your doctor and get a medical opinion.

Download Alaska Sleep Clinic's free sleep journal to keep track of your sleep issues for you and your physician to go over.

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Topics: CPAP therapy, sleep health, overall wellness

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