Most everyone knows about the health benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise, but many people overlook the vital role of sleep for good health. Two neurologists from Northwestern University stated in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine: “sleep should be considered as essential to a healthy lifestyle as exercise and nutrition.
Rest refreshes, rejuvenates, regenerates and rebuilds the mind, body and soul. In a hectic world rest, and especially a good night’s sleep, is unappreciated. Here are five reasons you should regularly get quality sleep.
- Improved Immune Function
Adequate sleep is important for a well-functioning immune system. Research shows that good quality sleep helps your body to fight off illnesses, including infections such as viruses. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work and reduces their effectiveness in fighting off disease. An important part of keeping your immune system strong and working well is to get a good night’s sleep.
- Better Memory and Concentration
If you regularly have problems focusing or remembering things, perhaps you shouldn’t be so fast to label yourself as “forgetful”, or to assign a self-diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Maybe you’re just sleep-deprived. Sleep plays a big part in learning, memory, and concentration. When you are low on sleep, your brain will have trouble recalling details and it may also be challenging to focus on new information. While you’re sleeping at night your body is resting, however, your mind is processing and consolidating your memories and information from the day. This allows your brain to do some necessary filing. Getting quality sleep will help you remember and process things better and have a sharper mind.
- Reduce Inflammation
Lack of sleep causes increased stress hormones to be released, which raises the level of inflammation in your body. This creates a greater risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer, diabetes, bowel diseases, and more. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can contribute to these diseases — and that these diseases, in turn, can contribute to sleep deprivation. Getting regular quality sleep is a powerful investment toward greater wellness.
- Mood Enhancement
Lack of sleep impacts chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, which is a mood stabilizer. Deficiencies in this hormone may lead to depression. Studies have shown that people with chronic sleep deprivation have a higher chance of developing a mood disorder, are five times more likely to develop depression, and are at an even greater risk of anxiety and panic disorders. Getting adequate rest will refresh you and hit the reset button in your brain, which improves your mood and helps to give you a positive outlook on life.
- Body Repair
Sleep is a time to rest, but it is also a time when many biological processes take place. During deep sleep your body is busy repairing different functions. If there are areas that need to heal, the brain can trigger the release of hormones that encourage the repair of muscles, organs and other cells. Without adequate sleep your body will not get the restoration it needs and will tend to gradual decline. Getting a good night’s sleep is a vital component of regularly restoring your body.
Hopefully by now, you’ve been reminded of the importance of sleep, and have made a firm commitment to getting regular, quality sleep. To that end, here are some key points to remember that will aid you in a good night’s sleep.
Tips for Better Nightly Sleep
- Exercise daily
- Reduce stimulants (coffee, tea, etc.) throughout the day, and have none at night.
- Avoid having food within 3 hours before bedtime
- Get off all media at least one hour before bedtime
- Take a relaxing, warm shower (or bath) at night
- Keep a window cracked opened for fresh air, even in the winter
- Go to bed the same time every night
- Try to get 7-8 hours sleep
Photo by: Kinga Cichewicz