Sleeping For A Healthier Life
Physicians have been ranting about the importance of proper sleep for ages now. While they might not be following that advice themselves, that does not make it less valid. Sleep is important for a number of reasons: it encourages rapid metabolism, allows your brain to rest and regenerate and your muscles to grow. In fact, you can say that the modern health crisis and rising incidence of chronic diseases can be linked to the overall decline of natural sleep cycles! Here we’ll try to encourage you to sleep more by showing you some of the benefits!
Sleeping can improve your memory
Memory is a tricky topic overall. There are many factors contributing to the formation of memories and their retention. But for an easier view you can look at memory as a process which has four parts:
- Acquisition – this is where you acquire new memories as you see/hear and experience different phenomena. The information is usually called an engram.
- Consolidation – a necessary step for storage, the information (engram) must be processed in your brain and stored.
- Storage – is when you are retaining some information in your brain. It’s also called retention.
- Recall – is the act of retrieving something from your memory stores.
Sleep is absolutely necessary for the consolidation of memories, the lack of sleep is linked to memory loss. Sleeping an adequate amount can improve your memory retention drastically – whether you’re learning a new subject or just want to have a healthier mind.
Sleep might affect our lifespans
It’s unclear if the lack of sleep shortens life, or if people with severe or debilitating chronic diseases sleep less but one thing is clear, people who sleep too little or too much have, on average, shorter lifespans.
The information about this topic is scarce and there are a number of factors which influence sleep patterns, but adequate sleep hygiene is associated with a longer lifespan and a better overall quality of life.
Lack of sleep might spur inflammation
Inflammation is a process which usually occurs with cellular damage. It is linked to numerous diseases – diabetes, arthritis, stroke and even heart disease. Inflammation has certain markers, these are called inflammatory proteins and they are usually tested for. You might have heart of markers such as C reactive protein (CRP) and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). How are these relevant to sleep? Well, scientists have found elevated levels of these markers of inflammation in sleep-deprived patients, it is surmised that these people are thus more prone to diseases associated with inflammation!
Another study was conducted in patients with different sleep disorders – sleep apnea, insomnia, snoring and hypoventilation. Higher blood pressures were associated with these disorders and proper treatment also improved blood pressure and the chronic diseases these patients were experiencing!
Sleeping can improve your physical performance
Athletes have long championed that idea that sleeping is key to building muscle. Bodybuilders are recommended to sleep at least 7 hours a night to achieve maximum muscle growth, while athletes in less strength-oriented sports are also recommended to sleep that much due to the positive effects on stamina and endurance.
The optimum amount to sleep every night is disputed but it usually ranges from 7-10 hours per night for people who are competing in some for of sports.
Lean body mass and weight loss are another important factor to consider. Researchers have found links between sleep deprivation and slowing metabolism. Dieters and gym-goers alike are encouraged to sleep more to reduce the negative effects of sleep-deprivation on metabolism. The dieters who slept more during these studies felt less hungry and lost more weight compared to their insomniac counterparts.
Mental functioning seems to improve with more sleep.
Be it stress levels, creativity or attention, all of these mental functions are improved with adequate sleep. Children are especially susceptible to the negative effects of sleep-deprivation, their developing brains need the rest provided to restructure and regenerate.
Sleep deprivation seems to have negative effects on attention – causing symptoms similar to ADHD. Children who got more than 8 hours of sleep at night not only payed more attention in class, but had on average higher scores compared to their sleep-averse classmates.
Lack of sleep is associated with a higher risk of automobile accidents, irritation and depression. In fact, patients with major depressive disorder usually have problems with either too much or too little sleep. It’s been found that proper treatment of insomnia is necessary to achieve depression control.
It seems that sleeping adequate hours is necessary for numerous natural processes in our bodies. And whether you’re looking to embrace a healthier lifestyle or just want to have healthier day-to-day habits, sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night seems like the way to go!