Brought to you by our featured guest blogger, Jill Nystul, author and founder of One Good Thing by Jillee.
I will admit that most of the time, I probably don’t get as much sleep as I should. But sleep is incredibly important for your overall health! While you’re asleep, your body is actually hard at work performing vital maintenance tasks, including hormone regulation, muscle repair, memory consolidation, and more. By depriving your body of sleep, your body has less time to perform these crucial functions, and your health can suffer for it.
While in the past I’ve shrugged off my bad sleep habits, I’ve recently learned a lot more about the specific ways that sleep affects your health. I’ve already started making an effort to improve my sleep habits, and I hope you will too! Today I’ll be sharing 5 surprising health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, to help give you a clearer idea of just how important sleep can be!
5 Health Benefits Of Sleep
1. Revitalized Skin
The time that you’re asleep is an important time for your skin. Many hormonal and metabolic processes occur while you’re asleep, including ones that directly affect your skin. Collagen production occurs during sleep, so if you’re not getting enough sleep, you may notice an increase in fine lines and wrinkles. Something I am definitely not in favor of!
Your body also pumps more blood to your skin while you’re sleeping, so well-rested people can enjoy a rosy, glowing complexion. (Yes please!) But if you’re not getting adequate sleep, your skin could start to appear dull and drab due to decreased blood flow.
2. Weight Control
This next fact was surprising AND upsetting to me, but did you know sleep actually has a huge impact on your ability to maintain or lose body weight? Researchers have shown that even when diet and exercise are the same, sleep deprived people experience as much as 50% less fat-loss than people who are well-rested. Your metabolism just can’t function properly if you’re not getting enough sleep!
Being sleep deprived can also affect your judgment when it comes to food choices. A well-rested person will find it relatively easy to say “no” to unnecessary junk food or late-night snacks. However, sleep deprivation can make it harder to make the right food decisions, so snacking and overeating can become much more likely. I’ve definitely been guilty of that!
3. Lower Stress
There’s a phenomenon called the “sleep-stress cycle” that helps illustrate how crucial it is to get enough sleep. The cycle begins when a person experiencing stress is having trouble falling or staying asleep. After experiencing poor sleep, this person is likely to experience even more stress. The stress leads to poor sleep (again), and the cycle perpetuates itself.
It’s best to avoid the sleep-stress cycle entirely by learning how to manage your stress. Practices like meditation and yoga can be great ways to de-stress before bed. Many people also find it helpful to write down all of their stressed-out thoughts right before bed, so they don’t stay up dwelling on them.
4. Better Mood
The amount and quality of the sleep you get can have a dramatic effect on your mood. (I have personally experienced this phenomenon. Lack of sleep = grouchy Jillee.) A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep each night reported feeling angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the participants went back to a full night’s sleep, they all reported dramatically improved moods.
When your body is getting the sleep that it needs, you have much better control of your emotions and impulses. You’ll be better able to handle bad news and inconveniences, and you’ll make better choices throughout the day. Not only does that benefit you, but the people you interact with will benefit. 😉
5. Better Memory
There are 3 facets to memory – acquisition (learning something new), consolidation (committing it to memory), and recall (accessing that information). Acquisition and recall both occur when you’re awake, but important parts of consolidation happen while you’re asleep.
During the 8 or so hours while you’re asleep, your brain processes the new information you picked up throughout the day. Think of your sleeping brain like a filing cabinet, where new information is being examined, sorted, and filed away in the right places. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain can’t consolidate information as effectively, and your ability to remember things will suffer.
If writing this post has taught me anything, it’s that sleep is not the luxury we often make it out to be. Good sleep is a necessity, and it is crucial to our overall health. A couple of months ago, I decided to invest in my sleep and health by switching to a Sleep Number mattress, and I’m so glad I did! Thanks to my Sleep Number mattress, I’ve been spending less time trying to fall asleep and more time actually sleeping. Making a commitment to my health has never felt so easy (or more comfortable!) 🙂
Find this post helpful? Check out Stress Less, Sleep More.