Sleep is a hot commodity these days. Between your work and personal life, finding the time to get enough shut-eye can be tough. Make it a priority, though, because those unconscious hours are about more than beauty rest. They work wonders on your body and mind.
If you’re short on zzzs, you’re not alone. The CDC reports that approximately one-third of U.S. adults don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours a night. It’s not just about quantity, though — sleep quality matters, as well. To make the most of your snoozing, try upgrading your mattress and bedding. You might also consider investing in silk pajamas as silk can regulate your body temperature, so you sleep comfortably.
Once you’re snuggled down, you’ll be on your way to reaping the physical and mental benefits of a good night’s slumber.
1. It Helps You Fight the Scale
Sleep is a great weight management tool. While you snore, your body balances your appetite hormones. If you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll produce too much ghrelin (the hungry hormone) and not enough leptin (the full hormone). That means you’re more likely to overeat when you’re awake.
Getting a good night’s rest fights calories another way, too. More sleep equals more energy for exercise to burn off the food you eat.
2. It Strengthens Your Natural Armor
Dream time is the peak time for your body to make the T cells that protect you from infection. When you have enough of these cells and cytokines (proteins that help direct your immune system), you stay healthier.
More sleep protects you from viruses. In fact, it can make vaccines more effective (potentially great news for the COVID-19 boosters!). It also prevents inflammation that could be responsible for chronic health conditions in the long run.
Most cancers aren’t virus-related, but getting enough sleep could possibly protect you from the disease. If you snooze less than 6 hours a night, you could be at an increased risk for breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancer.
3. It Keeps the Heart Healthy
The link between sleep and your ticker is strong. While your eyes are closed, your body repairs minor injuries to your heart and blood vessels. It also lowers your blood pressure, reducing your risk of stroke or coronary artery disease.
Keep in mind sleep disturbances like sleep apnea and insomnia can hurt your heart over time. Sleep apnea limits your oxygen, increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke. Insomnia also causes high blood pressure and can contribute to heart failure. If you’re dealing with these issues, talk to your doctor.
4. It Helps Control Your Blood Sugar
Fortunately, when you sleep, the only thing sweet is your dreams. As you snooze, your body responds to the hormone insulin to keep your blood sugar low. That helps reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fewer winks make your cells less sensitive to insulin. People who sleep fewer hours are generally twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. For people who already have the condition, sleeping less makes it harder to control their blood sugar levels. Some patients who don’t get enough sleep can also experience restless leg syndrome and nerve damage to their hands and feet.
5. It Makes You Wake Up Happier
No doubt you’ve woken up cranky after a night of too little sleep. That’s because it’s harder to control your emotions when you don’t get enough rest. Both adults and kids become quick to anger and more impulsive.
Snag enough shut-eye, and you’ll make better decisions. Doing risky things will also look and sound a lot less appealing.
6. It Relieves Stress and Sadness
The relationship between sleep and depression or anxiety is a cycle. These conditions can cause sleep problems, including insomnia. Fortunately, getting better sleep flips the script and alleviates anxiety and depression symptoms.
To set yourself up for success, practice some low-impact movements before you go to bed. Give yoga or tai chi a try to reduce your anxiety. It could improve the quality of your sleep.
7. It Safeguards Your Brain
Getting enough sleep can keep you mentally sharp for both the workday ahead and for the years to come. Carving out dedicated sleep time could keep you from developing dementia.
While you’re sleeping, your brain flushes out beta amyloid, the protein that — when it accumulates — is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The less you sleep, the smaller the opportunity for your brain to clear itself out.
8. It Helps You Think Clearly
Have you ever noticed how different you feel after a good night’s sleep? Sharp and alert, right? That’s because a solid night of slumber boosts your concentration and makes it easier for you to learn new things. That keen focus means you’ll probably make fewer mistakes at work or school.
If you stare at the back of your eyelids long enough, you’ll fall into REM sleep. This is where your brain consolidates your memories, helping you hold on to important details.
Ways to Maximize Your Zzzs
It will take some dedication, but you can build solid sleep habits that will have you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated every day. Give these tips a try:
- Set a sleep schedule — both for bedtime and waking up.
- Create a relaxation routine before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening.
- Dim the lights and put away electronic devices before bed.
- Arrange your mattress and pillows to be comfortable and supportive.
- Block excess light that could disrupt your sleep.
Snagging enough snooze time is not only about getting rid of the bags under your eyes but taking good care of your body and mind as well. Remember these benefits when you’re trying to decide whether or not to turn out the lights.