I’ve always been an anxious and sleepless person, even as a child. Moving away from home forced me out of my comfortable hole, out of my comfort zone, which is when my anxiety and depression got so much worse.
It was after months of paranoia, violent imaginings, and a confusing sleeping pattern that I forced myself to get help. Since then, I’ve been in therapy more or less constantly, which has helped me learn more about myself and ways of coping. In a way, therapy offered me a chance to reintroduce me to myself.
If there is one take away piece of advice I could give, after years of debilitating anxiety and depression, it would be to make valuable friends, and to not be scared to talk to them about your sleepless nights, anxieties, and worries – it’s a very wise thing to just bottle everything up, but you have to unbottle, and release the pressure sometimes. I have done detailed research on the benefits of adequate sleep and its optimal effects on overall health. This article shows some of my research, hopefully, it will help my readers.
Getting enough sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well-being. When it comes to their health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
Getting enough sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well-being. Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep's benefits. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. The features in this section explore these discoveries and describe specific ways in which we all benefit from sleep. The following are some of the many benefits health professionals associated with getting a good night’s rest.
1. Better output and concentration
Research has linked getting enough sleep to better concentration, productivity, and cognition. There were several studies that scientists did in the early 2000s that looked at the effects of sleep deprivation.
What the researchers concluded is that sleep has links to several brain functions, including:
A more recent study showed that children’s sleep patterns can have a direct impact on their behavior and academic performance.
2. Lower weight gain risk
The link between weight gain and obesity and short sleep patterns is not completely clear.
There have been several studies throughout the years that have linked obesity and poor sleep patterns.
However, a more recent study in the journal concludes that there is no link between being overweight and sleep deprivation.
This research argues that many previous studies fail to account adequately for other factors, such as:
- drinking alcohol
- living with type 2 diabetes
- level of physical activity
- education levels
- long working hours
- long sedentary time
A lack of sleep may affect a person’s desire or ability to maintain a healthful lifestyle, but it may or may not be a direct contributor to weight gain.
3. Greater athletic performance
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep can boost a person’s athletic performance.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adequate sleep for adults is between 7 and 9 hours a night, and athletes may benefit from as many as 10 hours. The time you spend in bed goes hand-in-hand with the time you spend at the table and at the gym to help you manage your weight. One of the reasons for this requirement is that the body heals during sleep. Other benefits include:
- better performance intensity
- more energy
- better coordination
- faster speed
- better mental functioning
5. Lower risk of heart disease
One risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, getting adequate rest each night allows the body’s blood pressure to regulate itself.
Doing so can reduce the chances of sleep-related conditions and promote better overall heart health.
6. More social and emotional intelligence
Sleep has links to people’s emotional and social intelligence. Someone who does not get adequate sleep is more likely to have issues with recognizing other people’s emotions and expressions.
For example, one study in the Journal of Sleep Research Trusted Source looked at people’s responses to emotional stimuli. The researchers concluded, similarly to many earlier studies, that a person’s emotional empathy is less when they do not get adequate sleep.
7. Preventing depression
The association between sleep and mental health has been the subject of research for a long time. One conclusion is that there is a link between lack of sleep and depression.
A study appearing in JAMA Psychiatry Trusted Source examines patterns of death by suicide over 10 years. It concludes that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to many of these deaths.
Another study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry Trusted Source suggests that people with sleep disorders such as insomnia are likely to show signs of depression.
8. Lower inflammation
There is a link between getting adequate sleep and reducing inflammation in the body.
For example, a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology Trusted Source suggests a link between sleep deprivation and inflammatory bowel diseases that affect people’s gastrointestinal tract.
The study showed that sleep deprivation can contribute to these diseases — and that these diseases, in turn, can contribute to sleep deprivation.
9. Stronger immune system
Sleep helps the body repair, regenerate, and recover. The immune system is no exception to this relationship. Some research shows how better sleep quality can help the body fight off infection.
However, scientists still need to do further research into the exact mechanisms of sleep in regards to its impact on the body’s immune system.
According to the CDC Trusted Source, the breakdown is as follows:
- Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
- Infants (4–12 months): 12–16 hours
- Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
- Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
- School-age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours
- Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
- Adult (18–60 years): 7-plus hours
- Adult (61–64 years): 7–9 hours
- Adult (65+ years): 7–8 hours
As well as the number of hours, the quality of sleep is also important. Signs of poor sleep quality include:
- Waking in the middle of the night.
- Still not feeling rested after an adequate number of hours of sleep.
Some things a person can do to improve sleep quality are:
- Avoiding sleeping in when you have had enough sleep.
- Going to bed around the same time each night.
- Spending more time outside and being more active during the day.
- Reducing stress through exercise, therapy, or other means.
Sleep is a vital, often neglected, component of every person’s overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because it enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for another day.
Your best bet is to sleep for 7-8 hours each night for peak health benefits.
Getting adequate rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration.