8 Amazing Benefits of Great Sleep
Sleep is essential and there’s nothing better than waking up feeling refreshed and recharged after a solid 8-10 hours of rest.
Its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more…
1 – Improve memory
Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation). “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.” In other words if you’re trying to learn something new—whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing—you’ll perform better after sleeping.
2 – Lower stress
When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same—and both can affect cardiovascular health. “Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure,” Dr. Jean says. “It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.”
3 – Improve Energy
It’s no coincidence that it’s easier to get out of bed after a solid night’s sleep: 32 percent of people say the best thing about getting a good night’s sleep is improved physical energy, a Better Sleep Council survey found. Because adequate sleep keeps your metabolism hormones balanced, you’re also more likely to choose healthy foods with fiber and protein (a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, say, instead of a blueberry muffin) which steadies your blood sugar and sustains energy levels all day long.
4 – Spur creativity
Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper. In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.
5 – Be a winner
If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep. A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
6 – Improve your Exam Results!
Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote. In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did. “If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep,” Dr. Rapoport says, “but it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning.”
7 – Sharpen attention
A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids, Dr. Rapoport says. “Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do,” he adds. “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.” A 2009 study in the journalPediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. “We diagnose and measure sleep by measuring electrical changes in the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “So not surprisingly how we sleep affects the brain.”
8 – Lose Weight & Gain Muscle
If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)
This is advice that Bodybuilders have given for years, often recommending the usage of sleep supplements to increase body composition. Experts at Losing Weight and Gaining Muscle, their advice is well listened to!
Dieters in the Chicago study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep. “Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.”
9 – Steer clear of depression
Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability. “A lack of sleep can contribute to depression,” Dr. Jean says. “A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep.” If you think the long hours put in during the week are the cause of your anxiety or impatience, Dr. Rapoport warns that sleep cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend. “If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week,” he says. “It’s all about finding a balance.
Do you need to get better sleep?