Medical science is discovering that sleep is much more important than we once thought. While many people routinely dismiss it as being peripherally important for health, new research is showing that sleep might be the single-best thing we can do to improve our health. Here are five reasons sleep is so critical for us.
Sleeping Helps Keep Stress in Check
Sleeping helps keep a stress hormone, called cortisol, in check. When night falls, our body naturally secretes a hormone called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping us fall asleep. Without it, we would stay awake all night long. Yet melatonin has potent anti-aging and rejuvenating effects in addition to helping us get to sleep.
Conversely, chronically elevated cortisol can make us feel stressed out all the time, make it difficult or impossible to lose weight, and can make it easier for us to get sick. In fact, some evidence suggests that chronically elevated cortisol may depress the immune system and shorten your lifespan.
You Become Smarter
Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your concentration, problem-solving skills, and make it difficult to remember things. That’s because sleep triggers a repair and memory-building mechanism in the brain. In other words, sleep is when new memories are formed. So, if you want a strong memory and an active brain, get more sleep.
Your Risk of Accidents Decreases
When you get enough sleep, you naturally feel more awake and focused during the day. Watson Goepel, a car accident lawyer in Vancouver, deals with all types of motor vehicle accidents all the time, resulting from distracted driving – distracted driving that is sometimes caused by sleep deprivation.
So, if you want to reduce your risk of being sued, of being in an accident, or of being injured, get more shut eye.
You May Lose Weight
When you get more sleep, your body goes into fat burning mode. Stress levels drop, and you’re more apt to maintain a healthy weight – something all of us can benefit from.
You’ll Look And Feel Better
This is probably one of the most subjective, but also one of the more important aspects of getting a good night’s sleep. People who are limited to four or five hours of sleep at night for several nights in a row often experience more bouts of illness, even mild illness like headaches and stomach problems. They also undergo changes in metabolism that are similar to those that occur in aging.
We look and feel horrible after sleep deprivation because we are physiologically worse. It has to do with that pesky hormone cortisol as well as growth hormone. When we experience a lack of sleep, we put our body into “overdrive,” the stress hormone cortisol elevates, and consequently, growth hormone levels drop off.
But it’s the growth hormone produced during sleep that’s responsible for improved skin tone and muscle growth. So, if you want to look and feel better, you must get quality sleep every night.
Deborah Hargrove is a naturopath and nutritionist. Whenever she finds something helpful, she likes to share the information online. You can find her articles on a variety of health and wellness blogs.