Sleep is a powerful part of the human experience. We have to sleep every day – that means we sleep an average of 26 years over our lifetimes.
That’s a lot of time!
There are many benefits of sleep because it plays an important role in our psychology as well as the biological and chemical functions of the body. Hormones are readjusted. The mind relaxes. We recharge. It’s a natural cycle.
Here are some of the surprising benefits of sleep:
Our mind is active during our waking hours. We are constantly making decisions as we navigate through the day. We must choose which route to take to work, or what sandwich to order. That is taxing on the mind. Sleep gives the brain time to rest, and this also improves the ability to retain memories. The mind also strengthens skills through practices that it is trying to learn, like playing tennis or programming on a computer. When we sleep, we improve the basic function of memory.
We are likely to develop health problems without enough sleep. A lack of sleep can cause diabetes, high-blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and heart disease. It’s a recipe for disaster, and you are more likely to die. A recent study in the Journal Sleep found that people who slept 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night live longer than people who sleep less. A startling discovery was that insomniac men who sleep less than six hours per day are more than four times more likely to die early.
Keeps you in a better mood
Without enough sleep, you’re in a bad mood. People become more irritable when they lack sufficient sleep. They don’t joke and are generally not happy people to be around. Anyone who is seeking to be more carefree and happy would be advised to get enough sleep.
Improved athletic performance
Regardless of whether you are a weekend warrior or a competitive athlete, people need enough sleep to be competitive. Sleep dramatically improves athletic performance. A Stanford study found that football athletes who slept at least 10 hours a night for seven or eight weeks have improved sprint time in addition to reporting less fatigue and increased stamina.
Sharper attention span
At home, work or school, we need to be mentally alert. Sufficient sleep increases the mind’s sharpness and improves our attention span. This is especially true among children, but it also applies to adults. Children need upwards up 10 to 12 hours of sleep and adults need 7 or eight hours sleep.
Reduces the chances of depression
The relationship between sleep and depression is complicated. A lack of sleep can cause depression; conversely, a depressed person can sleep too much. An astonishing finding from a recent study found that people with insomnia have a 10-fold greater chance of developing depression. That means the lack of sleep has a direct relationship to depression.
Many people have a hard time losing weight. Without enough exercise, and with a tendency to overeat, reaching a healthy weight can be hard. Sleep, however, plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who sleep a normal amount each night burn 20% more calories than a person who don’t get enough sleep.
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Maybe you need to create a sleep routine. Read more about a sleep routine here.