There are many surprising health benefits of sleep! Most people think that sleep simply relieves tiredness and gives their brain a rest. Not so! Sleep is an essential part of learning and maintaining good health.
A lack of sleep leads to poor memory consolidation (remembering what you learned that day), poor judgement and can cause listlessness, health problems, obesity and high blood pressure – plus more.
Before discussing this further, there is one thing you can do to improve the quality of your sleep and to help you sleep throughout the night. That is to choose a mattress that best suits your sleeping habits. If you have a partner, that becomes even more important because the mattress must suit both of you.
There are many mattresses available online that can improve the quality of your sleep and your comfort while sleeping. Make sure to choose the mattress that best suits your needs – they are not all the same! Far from it!
Here are some of the health benefits of sleep that may or may not surprise you.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
It’s sure to surprise many people that if you don’t get enough sleep, then your weight might increase. This is connected to hormone regulation and motivation to exercise. If you don’t get around 7 – 8 hours sleep each night you are likely to feel less like exercising. Tired people tend to rest rather than exercise.
Regarding hormones, leptin is a hormone that regulates your appetite by inhibiting hunger. Partial sleep deprivation has been associated with decreased leptin levels. This leads to feelings of hunger, no matter how much you have eaten.
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, then sleep can help you achieve that. A useful sleep medicine reviews article explains several metabolic effects of sleep deprivation including diabetes and obesity.
Memory Retention and Learning
Learning is significantly affected by sleep. Students who sleep well at night retain what they have been studying more than those that party all night! That may seem obvious, but the same applies to those that don’t party, and still find it hard to sleep.
A comfortable mattress may help such people retain what they learn and perform better in their studies and at work.
Children who get the proper amount of sleep get better school grades than those that don’t. Naturally, innate intelligence also has a significant effect, although a child will not make the best use of that intelligence without proper sleep.
One theory is that your brain consolidates what you have learned into your memory while you are asleep, and the brain has little else to do other than keep your vital functions working.
A lack of sleep, or even poor quality sleep when you toss and turn and frequently wake up, has a link to some forms of heart disease. Among these are high cholesterol levels and a consequent build-up of cholesterol plaque on the arterial walls. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to high blood pressure and obesity.
Some substances related to heart disease, such as C-reactive protein, have been associated with a lack of sleep. Tests carried out on a number of adults indicated that lack of sleep resulted in an increase in this protein, which is a marker for inflammation and heart disease.
This information was obtained from a publication in the US National Library of Medicine abstracted from a report by Maier-Ewert et al published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The Effect of Lack of Sleep on Stress Levels
It’s practically a chicken and egg situation! Does stress cause lack of sleep, or does lack of sleep lead to stress? In fact, both are true. There is plenty of evidence that lack of sleep can affect your stress levels.
That’s why so many people appear to be tetchy when they feel tired when they wake up in the morning. However, ‘tetchiness’ is just one manifestation of stress.
A more serious form of stress is an inability to cope with the everyday pressures of life. If the quality of your sleep is poor, or if you haven’t had enough sleep, then simple –everyday issues that you would normally brush off suddenly become serious.
You are more likely to shout at your kids for making a noise if you are deprived of sleep. What would normally be a simply problem to solve at work suddenly becomes very stressful if you missed an hour or two of sleep the previous night.
This excellent report on Stress and Sleep by the American Psychological Association explains in simple terms how a lack of good quality sleep can affect your stress levels. The report is comprehensive and provides some good references for further information.
Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Your Sex Life
Studies have shown that inadequate sleep can have a negative effect on your sex life – particularly for men. A lack of sleep leads to reduced testosterone levels. A study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association showed that 5 hours of sleep for a week reduced young men’s testosterone levels from 10% to 15%. Women also have testosterone, though effect on them appears to be less than with men.
Choosing the right mattress is also an import factor. Many couples prefer a bouncy mattress, such as may be offered by an innerspring mattress or latex foam. Others prefer the feeling of being held into the mattress that memory foam provides. Of most importance though, is that the mattress should be comfortable to sleep on in order to help insure good quality sleep.
Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep: Summary There are several health benefits of sleep of which the above is a selection of the main ones. What is shown here is the importance of getting around 8 hours of good quality sleep. Most people are unaware of the importance of sleep, and of the importance of choosing the right mattress for maximum comfort.