We live in a busy world. Between work, family obligations, and friends, it can be hard to find time to eat, much less get enough sleep. And in our attempt to get everything accomplished, we often cut corners with sleep– a vital component to healing and wellbeing. Sleep is the time when our body recuperates to heals itself. Additionally, sleep plays a large part in helping the brain retain information. Ideally, we should devote one-third of our day to sleep but we are constantly connected to devices, filling our schedules with activities, and working long hours; sleep hours are the first thing we sacrifice to make room for the many other elements of our life. Though there are still many elements of sleep that scientists are still researching, but one thing is very clear, cutting back on sleep can hurt your health.
Without adequate sleep, it becomes harder to focus and retain information. Here are a few more ways getting more sleep can improve your health:
Sleep is the time when the brain’s neurons create new pathways. While sleeping, memories are coded into the mind. The adage of “sleep on it” when trying to learn something is actually true; sleeping after learning something helps retain that information. Ever had a creative epiphany after sleeping? Studies have shown that sufficient sleep helps with creative problem solving. Conversely, a lack of sleep is associated with poor decision making and increased risk taking. Those who experience a lack of sleep often speak of feeling like they are in a mental fog.
Sleep gives the heart and the entire cardiovascular system a much-needed rest. In addition, when you enter REM sleep, your heart rate changes as does your blood pressure. In the end, this helps to promote cardiovascular health. Without proper sleep, the blood pressure drop won’t occur, which means your body will release more adrenaline and cortisol as it responds to stress. These hormones keep your blood pressure higher, which can lead to heart disease.
Lack of sleep can greatly affect hormones. While you sleep, your body releases growth hormones which help children grow. It’s also a vital time for cells in muscles and tissue to repair themselves. And that’s not all! In addition to repairing itself for the present, your body is also preparing to fight future infections. While you sleep, your body creates cellular hormones to help improve the immune system. Ever find yourself getting sick after a particularly stressful period with lack of sleep? That’s why. When we sleep our body also creates leptin, an appetite suppressant. Want to cut back on eating? Try sleep! If you’re trying to stick to a diet, examine how much sleep you’re getting.
Having trouble getting enough sleep? There’s a few ways to make sure you are getting your full eight hours. For one, turn off your digital screens. The blue light they emit can be harmful to our sleep patterns. Try leaving your devices in a separate room and get a bona fide alarm clock to use instead of relying on a phone. Avoid caffeine and nicotine if you can, particularly later in the day. Exercise, but not too late because you’ll over stimulation your body and it will be harder to sleep. Last but certainly not least: relax! If you’re wound up before you go to bed it will be that much harder to sleep. Leave time in your day to unwind.
Sleep is vital to our growth and well-being. Make time to sleep. You’ll feel better tomorrow and ready to take on the day.