THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

The importance of sleep to the human health cannot be overemphasized. A good night’s sleep helps to boost one’s health.

As a matter of fact, sleep is just as important as exercise and healthy diet. But the sad news is that our natural sleep pattern is being influenced by the Western environment and lifestyle.

People no longer sleep as long and as well as they did in the past. Yes! That’s true! Every day, the quality of our sleep decreases. Too bad! Poor quality sleep affects our health.

This article will highlight reasons why it’s good for you to sleep well. You’ll also get to know the consequences of not sleeping well.

Poor sleep can hinder fat loss

Poor sleep can slow down weight loss. Yes! This true.

Research has shown that people who do not have enough sleep gain more weight than people who sleep well (1, 2).

As a matter of fact, short sleep contributes greatly to obesity.

A study review involving children and adults with short sleeping time showed that their likelihood of becoming obese were 89 and 55 percent respectively (3).

A number of factors including exercise and hormones mediates the effect that sleep has on weight gain (4).

So if you want to lose weight, try getting good some good sleep.

 

People who sleep well do not overload themselves with calories

Research has shown that people who do not sleep well tend to binge eat more compared to those who sleep well.

Poor sleep leads to poor regulation of appetite hormones and this in turn causes poor regulation of appetite (2, 5).

For instance, people who do not sleep well have very high levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite-stimulating hormone. They also have low levels of leptin. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone (6).

Sleep improves concentration and productivity

Sleep plays a very important role in brain function.

This includes concentration, performance and productivity, and cognition (7).

Depriving yourself of sleep impacts negatively on all of these functions.

This fact has been proven by a study conducted on medical interns.

The interns who worked for more than 24 hours at a stretch (without sleep) made very serious medical errors compared to interns who worked on a schedule that accommodated some sleep time (8).

Another study showed that sleep deprivation had similar effects on brain function as alcohol intoxication (9).

On the other hand, research has shown that having adequate and good-quality sleep improves one’s skills in problem solving. It also improves memory in both adults and children (10, 11, 12).

 

Adequate sleep improves your performance in athletic activities

Studies have shown that sleep improves performance in athletic events.

A study involving basketball players showed that adequate sleep improved accuracy, speed, mental wellbeing, and reaction times (13).

Sleep deprivation has been linked with poor performance in exercises and functional limitation in the elderly.

A study involving 2,800 females found that sleep deprivation caused reduced grip strength, slow walking, and difficulty in carrying out independent activities (14).

Inadequate sleep increases the risk of heart disease and stroke

It is well-known that the quality & duration of a person’s sleep has a major effect on many health risk factors.

These risk factors triggers chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases.

Studies have shown that people who are consistently deprived of sleep have a very high risk of stroke or heart disease compared to people who have up to 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night (15).

Poor sleep affects glucose metabolism and contributes to type 2 diabetes

A study has shown that sleep deprivation affects blood sugar levels and also reduces sensitivity to insulin (16, 17).

The study which involved healthy young men showed that sleeping for less than 4 hours per night triggered symptoms of prediabetes (18).

However, these symptoms were resolved after increasing their sleep duration for a week.

Sleep deprivation also increases blood sugar level in the general population.

Research has shown that having less than 6 hours of sleep per night increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (19, 20).

Poor sleep contributes to depression

Depression and other mental health issues are triggered by sleeping disorders and poor sleep quality.

Studies have shown that up to 90 percent of depressed patients have sleep problems (21).

In fact, poor sleep is associated with a high risk of suicide deaths (22).

People with sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia have reported higher rates of depression compared to those without (23).

Other importance of sleep and consequences of sleep deprivation include:

  • Improvement in immune function (an importance of good quality sleep)
  • Increased risk of inflammation (a consequence of sleep deprivation)

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