Medical professionals and government bodies are always advising us on how to get more sleep. We recently covered an article on the subject of how you get more sleep by switching off electronic devices, winding down, getting more exercise etc. Many people hear this advice from the NHS all the time and promptly ignore it, falling easily into the same old patterns. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are immeasurable.
Here is just a handful.
Sleep Improves. . .
When motorway driving, we will regularly see overhead signs stating ‘Take a Break. Tiredness Can Kill’. Although the major issue for this is people falling asleep at the wheel, tiredness can also affect our judgement and concentration. When we are not fully focused on what we are doing, we make mistakes. In some cases, this can be a critical error leading to an accident. It isn’t just a problem for driving either. Low quality sleep is often blamed for people making mistakes at work. Waking up before we have had a good number of hours makes us dazed and confused – it’s probably one of the reasons most accidents on our roads occur during the morning rush hour. Tests have also shown that the sleep-deprived struggle to solve basic maths and logic problems.
2. Improves Memory
As well as our concentration, a lack of sleep can make our memory worse. In a way, this is linked to concentration as they use similar parts of the brain when processing. Have you ever had to truly concentrate to remember something and then it just popped into your head? You might call it ‘racking your brains’. When concentration is affected, so is memory. The better quality and quantity of sleep you get, the better your memory will be. We are more alert in the mornings, especially when it comes to the memory centres of our brain.
3. Improves Mood
We all feel good after a great night’s sleep. We wake up with a warm and fuzzy feeling that puts a spring in our step for the rest of the day. A bad night of sleep can make us grumpy and irritable and that is not good for anybody around us. Further, persistent bad nights of sleep increase our risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. This is a vicious cycle as these conditions lower our quality and quantity of sleep. Although we do not advocate sleep as a cure, it can help improve mood.
4. Improves Physical Health
Despite claims from some, it won’t ‘boost your immune system’ or help cure anything. However, insufficient sleep leads to some serious health problems. These include diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks and much more. In one study, four young, healthy people were subjected to less than the recommended number of hours sleep. After just four days, they registered higher blood glucose levels than was considered normal. Medical experts are not quite sure why poor sleep affects physical health, but it probably has something to do with the extra stresses and strains placed on the physical body.
5. Improved Weight Regulation
The reason for this is more of a knock-on effect than an actual condition caused by a lack of sleep. If you are over-tired you don’t have the energy for your normal routine. You will be too tired to go for a walk or run (or gym if that is what you prefer) and opt for a lazy day instead. You will also eat more because you have less energy. This is a vicious cycle and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Staying up too late can lead to midnight snacks which is the worst time of day to eat.