When it comes to working out, you know that what you do in the gym is important. But what you do outside the gym — what you eat, what you drink, and especially how you sleep, is just as crucial. In fact, you must sleep in order for exercise to actually work.
So go ahead, snooze!
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. Here are some health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.
1. Improve your attention and concentration
It’s no surprise that getting a good night’s sleep can help to keep your energy levels up. But plenty of rest can also help to keep your mind from wandering and maintain your attention throughout the day. Not sleeping properly can mean that both your body and brain don’t function properly the next day. It could impair your attention span, concentration, strategic thinking, risk assessment and reaction times. This is even more important if you have a big decision to make, are driving, or are operating heavy machinery. So getting plenty of sleep can help you to stay sharp and focused all day long.
2. Take care of your emotional wellbeing
If you’ve got a lot on your mind and are struggling with your emotions, going over things in your head can often keep you awake at night. If you’re up all night worrying, you might begin to see a change in your mood and a lack of sleep can leave you feeling low. This could then cause you to feel anxious and create more negative thoughts about not sleeping. This might keep you awake even longer and can turn into a vicious cycle of worry and poor sleep. Try practising mindfulness to help you sleep and take care of your emotional wellbeing. Or try putting pen to paper and writing your concerns in a diary before bed. This could help put your thoughts in order and help you to get to sleep.
3. Sleep May Help Prevent Cancer
Did you know that people who work the late shift have a higher risk of developing breast and colon cancer? Researchers believe light exposure reduces melatonin levels1. Melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is thought to protect against cancer as it appears to suppress the growth of tumors. Be sure that your bedroom is dark and avoid using electronics before bed in order to help your body produce the melatonin it needs.
4. Sleep Makes You More Alert
A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great but increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged with your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.
5. Mood Boost
Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is process your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones. Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. One large study showed that when you have insomnia, you’re five times more likely to develop depression, and your odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.
6. Sleep can make you smarter
Along with a great night’s sleep, grabbing a quick nap in the daytime can contribute towards making your brain more effective and productive. You won’t necessarily be answering all the questions on University Challenge, but you may well feel sharper, more attentive and focused throughout the day.
7. Sleep can be a painkiller
If you’re suffering pain from a recent injury like a sprained ankle, getting plenty of sleep can actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and a lower pain threshold. Basically the more sleep you get the less pain you might be in.
8. Maintain good relationships
It’s no secret that a bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling grumpy. So making sure to get enough good sleep can help to put you in a more positive headspace. And when you’re feeling good, it’s likely to be felt by the people around you, like your colleagues and loved ones. So getting enough sleep can help you to maintain good interpersonal relationships. Not only that, but how much sleep you get can affect your language, reasoning and communication skills – all key factors when building relationships with others.
9. Good Sleep Can Maximize Athletic Performance
Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing. Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in elderly women. A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength and greater difficulty performing independent activities.
10. Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression
Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It has been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide. Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.