We all know that sleep is important, but many of us fail to get our recommended dose of sleep a night. Between work, social lives and family, it can be difficult to fit everything into our days – and sleep is often what suffers. As well as keeping our energy levels up, sleep has a number of surprising benefits, providing many good reasons to make an effort to sleep better at night.
Sleep improves memory function
When you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, you probably end up forgetting something the next morning – whether it’s a meeting you were supposed to have or trying to remember where you’ve left your keys. Sleeping helps to boost our memory function, making it easier for us to learn things after we’ve had a good night’s sleep. For those revising for exams for example, getting plenty of sleep amongst the revision is important to ensure you can recall those important details you learnt the next day.
Sleep is good for your health
Not getting enough sleep has proven to have a detrimental effect on health. Whilst this is evidenced quickly by headaches, mood swings and even depression, there are longer term consequences of not getting enough sleep such as increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even obesity. Getting enough sleep therefore isn’t just beneficial for your immediate health and wellbeing, but your future too.
It lowers your risk of injury
People who are tired and drowsy are at an increased risk of suffering an accident, whether this is in a car, whilst walking or by doing something at home. There have been many notorious accidents associated with tiredness, such as the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Making sure you get enough sleep will help prevent careless accidents which could have serious consequences.
It can help you lose or maintain your weight
When you’re tired, you’re far less likely to go for a run or head to the gym – yawning your way through an exercise class isn’t the most appealing. However, by making sure you get enough sleep, you’ll feel energised both in the morning and throughout the day, which will make you more likely to take up some exercise. Having the energy to prepare a home-cooked, healthy meal will also benefit your waistline, as you’ll be more likely to prepare something that’s good for you over putting a processed or high calorie meal in the microwave or oven.
It helps to lower stress
Getting the right amount of sleep can help lower your stress levels making it easier to make decisions and concentrate at work or at home. If stress is what’s preventing you from sleeping, there are plenty of solutions available to help you ease it to ensure you get the sleep you need.
Sleep boosts immunity
When you get a cold or other type of virus, common advice is to get some sleep. Sleep is important for boosting your immunity and a lack of it can increase your chances of developing a cold or other illness. Even missing an hour of your recommended eight hours is enough to lower your immunity, so make sure you make the effort to get some sleep.
It can reduce pain and inflammation
When you suffer from a lack of sleep, your stress levels are increased, and increased stress hormones can lead to inflammation. This not only puts us at risk of certain conditions such as a heart attack, but can also lead us to feel more pain. As pain can be a barrier to getting a good night’s sleep, it’s important that you seek pain management options in order to make sure it doesn’t have a lasting effect on your ability to sleep at night.
It’s all well and good to say that we need more sleep, but for many, falling asleep can be a difficult and frustrating process. Fortunately, the NHS Choices website has plenty of great articles and information about improving the quality of your sleep, as well as offering solutions if sleep is starting to become a problem. If you have any concerns about your sleeping habits, it’s important that you make an appointment with your doctor to help make sure you get the sleep you need for better health.