The ultimate pro-sleeper cheat sheet
You’ve heard the frightening list of things that can happen when you don’t get the sleep you need. From short-term avoidable accidents to long-term disease risk and early death, it’s enough to send us racing to our bedrooms. But what about the amazing benefits that are yours for the taking when you do get the sleep you need?
After all, wouldn’t you rather hear about the rewards of a good night’s sleep for a change?
In the interest of brevity, we cut our list off at 8 (to allow you to fit in a nap today!) but we challenge you to be on the look-out for more sleep benefits in your life.
How sleep can you help you live a longer, healthier life
1. Sleep helps you live longer. When it comes to how long you’re going to live, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that genetics is a loaded gun. But your environment – and how you live your life – are the triggers. You may carry genes for a multitude of diseases, but whether you get them or not is largely dependent on how you live your life. If you want to live longer, sleep can be your first and best defense against a slew of diseases.
2. Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight. Mattress manufacturers should consider giving away a free bathing suit with every purchase. Think we’re crazy? As wild as the idea sounds, substantial medical evidence suggests fascinating links between sleep and weight. According to WebMD.com, “Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.”
3. Sleep helps you manage stressful situations better. Some (good) stress is good for us – like date night with your partner or accepting an award for a job well done. But some (bad) stress has the power to turn us into impatient toddlers, especially if we didn’t get a good night’s sleep. If you’re averaging four to five hours sleep a night, your brain reacts to stress as if you’ve gone for three consecutive nights without any sleep. Imagine the power you’ll have the next time your boss wigs out and you’ve had a good night’s sleep…
4. Sleep helps you reduce inflammation & pain. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging all have strong ties to inflammation. If you sleep less than six hours a night, your blood levels of inflammatory proteins may be higher than people who sleep more. Show your heart some love – put it to bed.
5. Sleep helps you enjoy physical activity. When’s the last night you had a terrible night’s sleep and bounced out of bed in the morning, energized and ready for a 10K run? We thought so. Sleep is the mop-up crew for your brain and body, cleaning up spills, reorganizing memories and repairing muscle tissue. Skip that important recovery time and you look more like the energizer bunny who didn’t make the cut.
6. Sleep helps you avoid accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that sleepy drivers are responsible for the most single car crashes – even more than alcohol. What’s downright sobering though is that even one sleep deprived night can impair your driving, mimicking the effects of an alcoholic drink.
7. Sleep helps you embrace lifelong learning. Just as sleep repairs muscle tissue, it also cleans out the synapses in your brain – those pathways that lead to learning. Sleep facilitates the processing of memories, moving the important ones to storage and discarding the ones you won’t need tomorrow. Without sleep, your memories all stay in the short term retrieval area and learning complex skills become nearly impossible. So in essence, that 8-hour void of doing nothing other than sleep actually makes you smarter.
8. Sleep helps you fight depression. The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex – depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders. But the evidence is clear: people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well, according sleep experts.
9. Sleep helps you exercise your creativity. Ever notice how creativity ebbs and flows during the day? Depending on whether you’re a night hawk or early bird, you’ll enjoy spurts of creativity throughout the day – when your brain is most awake and energized. Without sleep, your brain lacks the fuel it needs to get into that creative zone. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy – without sleep, he’s really a drag.
Now you know the amazing benefits of a good night’s sleep. Who’s tucking in early tonight?
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- 7 myths wrecking your sleep
- The anatomy of an ideal bedroom
- How to trick yourself into becoming a morning person