We all know that a lack of sleep can leave you feeling groggy, while getting a decent night’s rest will help you to face the day feeling energised and ready for anything. The amount of sleep that is needed varies from person to person, so while one person may feel fine after just a few hours others will need a bit longer to restore themselves. But what is actually going on when we sleep and what are the benefits to a good night’s rest?
We checked in with some medical experts to come up with five good reasons to get enough sleep:
1. Keep In Shape
You may not associate sleep with staying in shape, but getting enough sleep should be part of any diet plan. Sleep lowers stress and cortisol levels while also regulating the hormones that keep your weight in check. Sleep deprivation can lead to a slower metabolism and increase the hormones that make you feel hungry while lowering those that tell you that you have eaten enough. In fact, studies say that those who sleep less than 6 hours per night are 30% more likely to be obese than people who get 7-9 hours a night.
2. Improve Your Memory
During your sleep cycle, you will enter a deep sleep where your breathing becomes shallower and your muscles relax while your brain processes memories. This happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and is marked by Rapid Eye Movement (REM). This is an important part of your sleep, and so the more sleep you get the more times you will enter REM sleep. During this phase of sleep, your brain is sorting through your memories to determine what is worth remembering for later – filing things from your short-term memory into your long-term memory – which is handy if you are studying, for example. Conversely, a lack of sleep will impair your memory.
3. Improve Your Immune System
As well as helping your brain, sleep is also important for your immune system as your adaptive immune response increases, meaning that you fight off any illnesses that may be attacking you. Not getting enough sleep can have side-effects such as impairing your ability to respond to insulin, making you less tolerant of sugars. A lack of sleep can also cause an inflammation response which can be associated with everything from digestive issues and weight gain to getting bags under your eyes!
4. Boost Your Sex Drive & Keep Your Heart Healthy
Testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone are all produced while you sleep. These important chemicals promote a healthy sex drive in men and women, while also helping to protect your heart from the inflammatory proteins that can cause heart damage.
5. Use Glucose To Give You A Morning Boost!
While repairing your body, sleep also turns leftover glucose into fat which helps keep you functioning as you sleep while also offering an extra boost in the morning. This is what lets you take a run or exercise before breakfast. If this glucose is not processed you are likely to feel groggy, hungry and wanting to go back to sleep.
Sounds like reason enough to get an early night tonight!