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Health

Seven Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 to 8 hours a night for adults. Crucially, it’s important to find out how many hours of sleep works for you personally, and then try to achieve this.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 to 8 hours a night for adults. Crucially, it’s important to find out how many hours of sleep works for you personally, and then try to achieve this.

As we move towards healthier lifestyles, much of the advice given is to get regular physical exercise or eat a balanced diet… But did you know that getting enough sleep is also an essential part of looking after your health?

Here are seven health benefits to making sure you’re getting enough sleep:

1. Sleep improves mental well-being

Having poor quality sleep can impact our mental health and make us more irritable, affecting our mood and leading to long-term mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed, research showed that most slept for less than 6 hours a night.

2. Sleep boosts your immune system

A good night’s sleep can help to boost your immune system as it gives your body time to rest and repair. Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders your body might come into contact with. A 2019 study found that a lack of sleep impaired the disease fighting ability of white blood cells. Another found that those who slept less than 7 hours were almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.

3. Sleep reduces your heart disease risk

Long-standing sleep deprivation has been associated with an increase in heart rate and an increase in blood pressure as well as production of higher levels of chemicals that cause inflammation, all of which put an extra strain on your heart.

4. Sleep prevents diabetes

Studies show that sleeping less than 6 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Why? Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. Poor sleep has been linked to poor insulin regulation and even resistance, disrupting and increasing blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes.

5. Sleep keeps your weight stable

Research shows that sleep deprivation reduces the levels of the hormone that signals that we’re full, whilst increasing the hormone which signals we’re hungry and so leading to over-eating, especially later in the day. Poor sleep makes it more difficult to control your appetite and causes you to put on weight.

6. Sleep improves concentration and productivity

Sleep is important for various aspects of brain functioning including concentration, productivity, and performance. As we sleep, our brain begins to organise and process all of the information from the day – it converts short-term interactions into long-term memories. This helps you to learn and consolidate, so when you wake up, you can often see things more clearly.

7. Sleep improves fertility

Sleep deprivation reduces the body’s production of vital sex hormones, leading to loss of libido (sex drive), trouble conceiving, as well as erectile dysfunction in men.

So, those are just seven health benefits of a good night’s sleep – but how much sleep do we actually need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 to 8 hours a night for adults. Crucially, it’s important to find out how many hours of sleep works for you personally, and then try to achieve this. How can you tell? If you’re waking up tired and spend the day longing for a nap it’s likely you are not getting enough sleep. Record your sleep hours for a few weeks, and when you’re consistently feeling rested, these hours will give you an idea of how much sleep your body needs (sometimes smart devices – like watches – can help us track our sleep too if you have one).

Final thoughts:

As we have seen there are so many holistic health benefits of getting enough good-quality sleep. Of course, we’ve not fully had the chance to explore what “good-quality” means – so i’ll be looking into this in a follow-up article, and be focusing on practical ways we can all improve our sleep quality, so stay tuned!

Stay healthy and blessed!

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