Women SleepingIt’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel good, but many people don’t realize just how important sleep is to our health. The amount of sleep needed varies based on your age, but most adults need around seven to nine hours of good sleep per day to function optimally and stay healthy.

You’ve probably found that you feel “off” after insufficient sleep, but the negative effects go beyond what you realize at the time. In fact, it can be dangerous to continuously go without sufficient sleep. For instance, you are twice as likely(opens in a new tab) to get into a car accident when you’re driving on six hours of sleep compared to getting a full eight hours.

Besides immediate consequences like a car crash, lack of sleep can cause many subtle issues in your life, often turning into long-term problems. By getting enough sleep, you not only avoid these complications but also reap the immense benefits that come with proper rest. It is important to be aware of how sleep affects you, so we’ve outlined five health benefits of getting enough sleep and how it can improve your daily life.

  1. 1. Improve Your Immune System

    When your body gets the rest it requires, your immune cells and proteins can more effectively fight off whatever comes their way. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be able to fight off common infections like the flu and common cold.

    Further, good sleep can improve the effectiveness of vaccines. If you suffer from sleep deficiency, your body could have a poor response to vaccines. Whether you need a routine flu shot or you are getting your COVID-19 vaccine, getting adequate sleep can help your body to receive vaccines properly and efficiently.

  2. 2. Keep a Healthy Weight

    Along with keeping a healthy diet and exercising regularly, getting enough sleep can work wonders for weight loss, and help you to maintain a healthy weight. Sleep reduces your chances of becoming overweight, as research(opens in a new tab) shows that those who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) and become obese. Sleep impacts your hormone levels, and poor sleep can disrupt the hormones that control appetite. This can make you less likely to reach for junk food or over-eat when you have had a good night’s rest.

  3. 3. Lower Stress and Improve Mood

    Sleep helps your mind and body to decompress after a long day. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases stress hormones, making you act in ways that aren’t productive. When your stress levels are high, you may make rash decisions, feel irritable, and more.

    Sleep also affects your mood and mental health. Without enough sleep, you may experience feelings like:

    • Anxiety
    • Mood swings
    • Anger
    • Difficulty coping with change
    • Difficulty controlling your emotions
    • Sadness or depression
    • Impulsive or risky behavior

    When you wake up from a night of inadequate sleep, you can feel a whirlwind of negative emotions or feel unlike yourself, which can make it quite hard to accomplish what you planned on doing that day. On the other hand, when you wake up from a good night of sleep, you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. Small changes and minor annoyances won’t feel as heightened, and you can go about your day free from stress and negativity.

  4. 4. Increase Productivity and Performance

    You may think that putting in that extra work in the late-night hours is setting you up for success, but it is doing more harm than good. Sleep has been linked to improved concentration and cognitive function, which can help you be even more productive at work or school than you thought you were by putting in overtime. A sleepless night will also make you more likely to reach for a cup, or two or three, of coffee, which can set you up for another night of restlessness when you have caffeine late in the day.

    Sleep helps with athletic performance as well. Whether you are an athlete or a frequent gym-goer, sufficient sleep will help you to excel in all areas of exercise. It has been shown to increase hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and aids in muscle recovery. It can also help with balance, allowing you to avoid injury while you engage in physical activity. Getting a good night’s sleep might just be the thing that puts you a step ahead of others in your sport, field of work, or academic achievement.

  5. 5. Lower Your Risk for Disease

    When you sleep well, your body’s hormones get to work on healing your heart and blood vessels to keep them healthy. But when you don’t, you are deprived of these hormones and the opposite can happen. Prolonged lack of sleep is often associated with:

    • High blood pressure - A common condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and more.
    • Kidney disease - Gradual loss of kidney function, meaning the kidneys can no longer filter waste and regulate water and acid in the blood as well as they should.
    • Heart disease - The leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions.
    • Stroke - A stroke is caused by an interrupted blood supply to a portion of the brain and can cause a variety of symptoms like facial drooping, arm and leg weakness, speech difficulties, vision loss, dizziness, and more.

    Your heart needs rest to function properly. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, be sure to bring it up in your check-up with your doctor and see how you can prevent developing these health problems.

Getting a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. If you are experiencing health problems due to lack of sleep, or have general concerns, Connected Health offers one-on-one preventative care with 24/7 availability.

Connected Health in Wexford, Pennsylvania is a concierge primary medicine practice that believes strongly in putting the focus back on the patient. We offer a variety of services ranging from primary care to fitness programs. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, learn more about our care services, or want to explore your membership options, give us a call at (724) 933-4300. You can also book an appointment online!