SLEEP WELL, BE WELL: Six Major Health Benefits of Sleep
Photo Credit: @the.sleep.expert
In the '90s and early '00s, the largely accepted attitude toward sleep was somewhere between 'sleep is for the weak' and 'I'll sleep when I'm dead.' Sleeping in was looked down upon and considered lazy. Fortunately, with all the research emerging on the subject lately, we are going through a Renaissance of sleep, swinging the public opinion on the topic back to a positive light. Sleep is finally getting the recognition it deserves as not only a cornerstone function in our lives but, something that greatly improves our health in many different ways! If you are ever on the fence about whether you should take a nap, go to bed early, or sleep in on the weekend, check out our list of the incredible health benefits of sleep :).
1. Improves Memory.
Although sleep may seem like a passive activity, your brain is very busy at night. During REM sleep, you process any new information you received throughout the day--storing it into memory. Getting a good sleep after learning a new skill is like hitting the 'save' button in your brain, it makes you much more likely to retain that information.
2. Lowers Stress.
Sleep has a huge impact on both physical and emotional stress. Getting enough sleep definitely affords you better control over your emotions, making you feel less stressed out and better prepared in a high-stress situation--you can think more clearly, problem-solve, and be much more patient than if you were tired. Physically, getting enough sleep greatly reduces cardiovascular stress as well as other physical stressors associated with inflammations: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis.
3. Achieve your weight-loss goals.
Sleep and metabolism are closely linked by the hormones in your blood. When you are tired, those hormones spike--those are the same hormones that drive appetite. It's this link that is responsible for the midnight snack--your body knows it's tired, but if you don't go to sleep that signal can be misread as hunger. If you're looking to drop a few extra pounds before summer, listen to your body and go to bed before you feel the urge to snack. This extended rest period will also allow your body extra time to repair and heal if you've been hitting the gym. This will, in turn, speed up recovery so you are able to have extra energy for frequent workouts while repairing any damage that is caused along the way.
4. Sharpen your focus.
As I've mentioned above, sleep is essential to your memory--focus plays a key role as well. Focus allows you to absorb information in the first place so you may retain it, working hand-in-hand with memory and sleep to learn new things.
Focus also plays a key role in driving. Drowsy driving, or driving while sleep deprived, makes you 20% more likely to get in a car accident. Driving after being awake for just 17 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05%, and it only goes up from there. If you are going to be getting behind the wheel, we always recommend you are rested to improve not only your focus and reaction time but your safety as well
5. Improves Mood.
Getting enough sleep means more to your mood than simply being happier and less cranky after you've gotten a good night's sleep. A lack of sleep is a known contributor to depression, anxiety and emotional instability. It's important to your overall emotional well-being to do your best to get enough sleep each night, rather than get too little during the week and making up for it on the weekend--it's best for you to find a balance that works for all the days of the week to maintain g
6. Inspires Creativity.
In addition to retaining and storing memories, when you're sleeping your brain also reorganizes and restructures them, causing you to feel inspired when you wake up.
Researchers at both Harvard University and Boston College found that test subjects appear to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may also help to spur on the creative process.
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