Sleep not only makes you feel better, it has considerable health benefits. The right dose of sleep can work wonders for your heart, weight, mind, and more. There are eight key benefits of sleep for individuals across age groups and genders.
During sleep you can strengthen memories or ‘practice’ skills learned while you were awake, a process known as consolidation.
Experts suggest that while practice can help you master something new be it physical or mental, sleep can make you learn it better. So if you are trying to learn something new—whether it’s a sport or a language, sleep can make you better at it.
Effect on lifespan
Getting sleep in just the right proportion can have a positive impact on your lifespan. In other words, too much or too little sleep can have an adverse effect on your lifespan. A 2010 study of women in the 50 to 79 years age group, revealed that more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.
Inflammation is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and premature aging, among other ailments and conditions. Research has established that individuals who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more sleep. A 2010 study proved that C-reactive protein, which is linked to heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.
Your creativity could get a boost after a good night’s sleep. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College established that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which helps in the creative process. Apart from consolidating memories, or making them stronger during sleep, the brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.
Doctors warn that lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in children. Unfortunately children don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do. Whereas adults get sleepy, children get hyperactive.
A 2009 study in the Pediatrics journal revealed that children in the 7-8 years age group, who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.
Helps to maintain weight
The key to losing weight as we all know is to consume fewer calories and get reasonable dosages of exercise.
Add one more point to your weight loss/maintenance programme – sleep.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have proved that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. The dieters shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.
What this means is that with adequate sleep dieters lost more fat – a positive, while the sleep deprived lost more muscle – negative.
Dieters in the study also felt hungrier when they got less sleep.
This is because sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same parts of the brain so when you are sleepy, certain hormones spike your bloodstream, and the same hormones drive appetite.
Stress and sleep are two sides of the same coin —both affect cardiovascular health.
Sleep can reduce stress levels and give people better control over blood pressure. It also estimated that sleep impacts cholesterol levels, which is closely linked to heart disease.
Helps overcome depression
Experts maintain lack of sleep has direct bearing on moods and can trigger depression. Adequate sleep at night can help a moody person lower anxiety. It imparts emotional stability. It means more to the person’s well-being over the long-term. Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is important; it cannot be ‘replenished’ by getting additional sleep over the weekends as a lot of people tend to do. Think of sleep as a medicine which should be taken in regular dosages every day and not something you take once in a while.