Why Sleep Is Important?
Despite the fact that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, getting a good night’s rest is often easier said than done and sleep issues plague a significant portion of the population. While science is yet to figure out exactly why we’re programmed to sleep so much, we do know that it plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing and is instrumental in reducing the risk of a variety of serious health conditions.
It goes without saying that you’ll feel tired with insufficient sleep, but it’s important to note that consistently getting quality shut-eye can benefit your health in other ways that you may not expect:
When you're running low on sleep, you'll probably have trouble holding onto and recalling details. That's because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory. Without enough sleep, it's tough to focus and take in new information. Your brain also doesn't have enough time to properly store memories so you can pull them up later.
Sleep lets your brain catch up so you're ready for what's next.
While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke. Short-term down time can have long-term payoffs.
Reduce the Risk of Obesity
The prevalence of obesity is largely blamed on poor diets and reduced physical activity, but there’s a growing body of research that suggests our sleep patterns might be at least partly responsible too. According to research published in Endocrine Development, the obesity rate has increased in correlation to the steady decline in nightly sleep duration, which has dropped by 1.5-2 hours over the last 50 years. The same study determined that sleeping for less than 6 hours per night is associated with a higher risk of obesity – particularly among children – after controlling for variable factors.
Sleep is also critical for the production, release and regulation of your hormones, which have an enormous influence on your health and wellbeing. For instance, a 2004 study found a strong link between reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin, hormones that are known to make you feel full and hungry, respectively. In turn, this may increase the risk of obesity and other health conditions associated with a higher body weight. In addition, the body releases growth hormones during deep sleep phases, which are critical for the development of children and teens, and facilitating muscle growth. This is far from an exhaustive list; suffice to say, sleep is absolutely vital for your physical and mental health.
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.