Your Health and Sleep, They’re Best Buds
You may not feel happy after a crummy night’s sleep, but sleep affects so much more than your mood. It’s a critical driver of your health and wellness throughout your entire life. It affects your productivity, your brain function and your physical health. And in teenagers and children, it’s a vital component in growth and development.
Sleep affects more than how you feel; it’s a vital component in your health and wellness.
Quality sleep is linked to healthy brain functioning.
Sleep helps control your hunger, glucose levels, sickness and even fertility.
Lack of sleep affects nearly every aspect of your life, from your work to driving ability.
Put plainly: you need quality sleep if you’re going to be able to function, to think, to take in new information and learn new things. Sleep gives your brain the opportunity to fully recuperate from the day and prepare for tomorrow.
The Mental Health Foundation, a European organization dedicated to raising awareness about mental health challenges, notes that during sleep “we can process information, consolidate memories, and undergo a number of maintenance processes that help us function during the daytime. . .we all need to make sure we get the right amount of sleep, and enough good quality sleep.”
Solid sleep is directly correlated to improvements in learning and performance, from your weekend golf game to performance on a University-level math exam. It’s your ammunition, powering your ability to pay attention, process information and make good decisions. And, just like a good night’s sleep can work wonders for your day, sleep deficiency has been shown to alter brain activity. This may present itself as you having trouble adapting to changes, being overly emotional, or having difficulty making decisions.
What do you find yourself doing non-stop when you’re sick? Sleeping, or perhaps wishing you were sleeping. That may be because of sleep’s crucial aid in physical health and healing. During sleep, your body goes into maintenance and repair mode, healing your heart, your blood vessels and even regulating your hormones.
Additionally, there are direct links between sleep and how hungry you feel the next day (and whether you go for the protein or that chocolate cake!). Sleep guides your body as it interacts with insulin and controls the levels of glucose in your blood. This is vital to diseases like heart disease and diabetes. From fertility to boosting your immunity, there are few physical health conditions that sleep does not impact.
Beyond your cognitive functioning and your physical health, there’s the domino-effect of what happens when you get too little sleep: you make mistakes (sometimes big ones). You don’t pay attention. You may even do something dangerous, not because you necessarily want to, but because you simply cannot function or make a smart decision.
This level of impact can be seen even when you’re losing just a few hours of sleep each night. A handful of hours can lead to big changes in how you feel and function. It may even result in something called microsleep, where you’re sleeping for a few moments, even though you’re awake. You may have experienced this if you’ve ever gone for a drive but can’t remember how you got home. That brief period of “nothing” is probably microsleep.
Lack of sleep affects your work, your education, the way you drive—the list could go on. But the important thing to remember is that it likely affects far more than just you. Your relationships will feel it, your work will suffer with lack of sleep, and there’s a higher chance of something tragic happening, like a serious accident.
Take these factors into consideration the next time you turn in for the night–and treat yourself to a long rest. Your health depends on it.
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