For many years, public health messages focused solely on the importance of diet and exercise to maintain physical, mental, and emotional health. However, as the number of sleep-deprived Americans continues to climb, along with numerous discoveries about the impact of sleep on overall health and well-being, more and more people are now realizing that sleep is an integral third pillar of optimal health. Indeed, observing good bedtime habits—like setting a sleep schedule and wearing women’s pajama tops and bottoms that are conducive to rest and relaxation—is not only a luxury but an important component of proper self-care.
If you tend to sacrifice sleep for other things, maybe a little experiment will help you appreciate the importance of healthy slumber. Try sleeping at least seven hours every night for a few weeks and see what will happen. Do you need encouragement? If so, this piece will give you a preview of some of the remarkable changes you will surely notice once you start sleeping well. From stabilizing your blood pressure and making you less sickly to helping you feel and look good inside and out, here are some of the benefits of a good night’s sleep that you do not want to miss.
You Are Less Likely to Catch a Cold
Millions of people suffer from the common colds each year, causing them to miss work and other essential activities. Although most people recover within a week or two even without medical attention, those with weakened immune systems or respiratory conditions may develop severe issues, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. That said, it’s best to be careful about this viral infection.
Perhaps you easily catch colds from people around you, whether at work, when you’re taking public transport, or even when you’re at home. When you begin getting proper sleep, spending at least seven hours a night in peaceful slumber, you’ll likely observe that you no longer get sick as easily as before.. A recent study published in the science journal Sleep revealed that individuals who sleep six hours or less a night are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus than those who sleep for seven hours or more every night. Essentially, sufficient sleep offers considerable protection against the common cold.
You Learn and Retain Information Better
Another significant change you will notice once you start getting healthy sleep is improved learning and memory. You see, when you lack sleep, your focus, attention, and awareness wander—making it more challenging to receive and retain information. Without sufficient sleep and rest, your overworked brain cells can no longer receive more information from your environment properly. You also develop a difficulty in retrieving all the other information you may have learned before.
On the contrary, getting a full night of sleep before and after a learning session benefits your learning ability and memory immensely. A study conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded scientists found that getting sufficient sleep before a learning activity prepares the brain to acquire information and to learn new details the following day. Those who lack sleep reduce their learning ability by as much as 40 percent. The team also discovered that a good night’s sleep within 24 hours after a learning activity helps save and cement the new information into the brain and connect them to other memories.
You Will Look Younger and Fresher
Once you start getting proper sleep, you will surely see a younger and fresher version of yourself when you look in the mirror. Swollen eyes, dark circles, dull and dry skin, and many other skin imperfections will become things of the past. In this case, the idea of “beauty sleep” is not that far-fetched.
Think about it. Sleep is the only time when your body heals and repairs itself after an entire day of too much exposure to the sun, pollution, and other harmful elements in the environment. As such, wouldn’t you want to give your cells and tissues more time to regenerate and refresh? It is worth noting that getting enough hours of rest also improves blood circulation, boosts collagen production, reduces stress levels, and eliminates fatigue. All these things contribute to numerous beauty benefits. Here are some of them:
- A healthier and glowing complexion
- Fewer wrinkles and facial skin sagging
- Fuller hair and stronger nails
- Less acne breakouts
- Brighter eyes
You Will Find It Easier to Shed Excess Pounds
If you are struggling to lose weight for many years with no considerable success, sufficient sleep may be the missing key to your fitness plan. Did you know that people who sleep less than six hours a night are 15 percent more likely to be obese than those who sleep for seven hours or more every night? People also tend to gain more weight when they sleep less.
Besides its link to weight gain, poor sleep also impacts appetite and feelings of fullness. When you don’t get enough rest, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that sends hunger signals to the brain. Your body also secretes less leptin, which is the hormone that suppresses hunger and tells your brain that you are full. These changes in the production of the hormones ghrelin and leptin will leave you with increased appetite and hunger, making it more difficult for you to stop eating.
Although getting sufficient sleep will not automatically make you lose weight, it can significantly help to expedite the process. With normal ghrelin and leptin production, fighting cravings and following a healthy diet will become more bearable. And since healthy sleep relieves fatigue, you will also have more energy and motivation to exercise.
You’ll Be in a Better Mood
You don’t have to read scientific articles to know that lack of sleep can considerably affect your mood. You probably know firsthand how a sleepless night or getting just a few hours of sleep makes you feel the next day. You most likely get grumpy, irritable, and highly stressed. Even the slightest inconvenience or issue may be enough to infuriate you. You may also feel less engaged even if something exciting happens.
When you get sufficient sleep, however, you’ll feel quite the opposite. You wake up feeling brighter and happier. You also have more energy and patience to face the challenges of the day. Why risk getting in a foul mood when sufficient sleep can help you wake up in good spirits and with a smile on your face?
Your Blood Pressure Will Be More Stable
If you regularly monitor your blood pressure (BP) for health reasons, you will most likely notice that your BP will become more stable once you start getting at least seven hours of sleep a night. You may not know it, but the fewer hours of sleep you get, the higher your BP may go.
A good night’s rest helps your body manage the hormones necessary to control stress. It also aids your nervous system so that it remains healthy. After a period of insufficient slumber, your body may not be able to regulate stress hormones, causing your BP to rise above normal. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found a high association between short sleep and hypertension, especially among women.
Keep in mind that hypertension is not something you should take lightly because it can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke—two leading causes of death in the United States. If you want to keep your blood pressure stable, it is not enough that you eat healthily and get enough exercise. You also need to adjust your sleeping habits to make a considerable difference in your circulatory health.
The sleep benefits described above are just some of the positive changes that you will readily notice once you start getting sufficient and satisfying sleep every night. Hopefully, they are enough to convince you of the value of healthy sleep and to motivate you to aim for at least seven hours of restful slumber each night. Sleep offers countless physical, mental and psychological advantages. Don’t you want to experience all these remarkable health benefits yourself?