The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

sleeping elderThis is a guest post by Elena Watson.

Nothing feels better than waking up and stretching after a restful night’s sleep. Our body loves to sleep—ideally, it spends about one third of our lives doing it. But sleeping well results in more than just feeling comfortable and rested in the morning. It can actually have a positive impact on your health as well, just as not getting a good night’s sleep can cause health problems.

Be a sleeping beauty: There’s a reason they call it “getting your beauty sleep.” Getting regular shut eye reduces bags under your eyes, keeps your skin clearer, and regulates your metabolism – which can lead to more weight loss and a trimmer figure. When you’re well rested, you’ll not only feel healthier, but you’ll look it as well.

Wake up with a smile: Sleeping well can also improve your mood. It’s common to feel cranky and irritated when you’ve had too little sleep, and getting enough sleep can have just the opposite effect. Waking up after a good long snooze will make you feel more energetic, less tired, and readier to take on the day.

Boost your immune system: When our bodies are at rest, they take this time to repair cells and fight off any diseases it may have been exposed to during the day. When we don’t allow ourselves enough sleep, or when we sleep poorly, we’re denying our bodies the chance to do this, and putting ourselves at greater risk of getting sick. Our immune system is weakened, and we become more vulnerable to the cold, the flu, and other infections. A suppressed immune system can also cause our bodies to respond more slowly to vaccines, making the chance of coming down with something even greater.

Keep your body healthy: Lack of sleep has even been linked to more serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes! When you’re overtired, you have an inflammatory response in your blood vessels and arteries, and an unhappy cardiovascular system can lead to very real problems. Sleep deprivation can also cause the body to develop conditions that make it more resistant to insulin—which is the defining feature of type 2 diabetes. If poor sleeping habits persist for a long time, these symptoms can develop into the disease they resemble.

Sharpen your smarts: There’s a reason it’s often difficult to concentrate when you’re very tired. This is because sleep deprivation has the tendency to affect hand-eye coordination, memory, and judgment. People who don’t get enough sleep do more poorly on tests, have trouble concentrating at work, and get into more car accidents. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to keeping your mind sharp and your reflexes quick.

Stay slim: There’s even some evidence that poor sleeping habits can lead to or worsen obesity. Studies have shown that people who sleep only five hours per night are 73% more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven hours or more. This has to do with the way sleep effects hormones—for example, not getting enough sleep lowers your levels of leptin, a chemical that reduces hunger. So the less you sleep, the hungrier you’ll be during the day time.

There’s a common saying that there’s nothing you can’t cure with a good night’s sleep, and as far as mood, obesity, the flu and the common cold go, this may really be true. If you’re looking to improve your health, sleep is the best way to start. So curl up under the covers, switch off the light, and catch some Z’s!

Author Bio: Elena Watson is a blogger for justhomemedical.com and a student at Bard College. She spends her time researching and writing about health care, particularly child and senior health.

Photo credit: sleeping elder image courtesy of eflon via photopin cc

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