What Are the Benefits of Sleep? 10 Key Questions Answered
One of the odder facets of our society is just how proud we are of not resting. But at what point is forcing ourselves too much? When is it better to actually relax and accept that there are many benefits of sleep?
If you want to figure out what sleep deprivation does to your body and understand it better, why we sleep, how to sleep better, how much sleep you should get, and some general tips for better sleep, you’ve come to the right place. So, let’s dive in and find out as much as we can about the matter!
Why Is Good Sleep Important?
We all lead busy lives nowadays, we spend a lot of time in front of computers, studying, working hard.
There is an entire culture of self-sacrifice; there is a fetishization of disciplined hard work where we get rid of rest, relaxation, and sleep, completely forgetting about the long-term benefits of sleep. As a result, a lot of people don’t get enough sleep. However, all of this should lead to some goal. Whether it be success or just a better, more balanced life, sacrificing sleep won’t help you achieve these goals.
Moreover, more people should think about how many hours of sleep they really need every night. They would value sleep much more if they knew all the restorative benefits of sleep. It helps keep your body, brain, and emotional life stable.
First things first—healing. The healing power of sleep should not be understated. Research has shown that rats that have been deprived of sleep have far lesser healing capabilities compared to rats who had enough sleep. Their immune systems were weaker, having fewer white blood cells, leading to issues like succumbing to infections more often.
Next on the list of sleep benefits is growth. Namely, during NREM3 (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, increased growth hormone levels have been noticed. Now, the growth hormone is vital for the regeneration and repair of tissue, as well as just general growth and development of the body.
For example, growing children spend more time in the NREM3 phase of sleep, as should athletes who constantly bombard their bodies with exercise. In fact, metabolic activity during sleep is actually anabolic, meaning it leads to growth and regeneration.
A study published in the Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Journal focused on the importance of sleep. The study shows that inflammation becomes worse and more prevalent as sleep deprivation continues. One factor that leads to the reduction of inflammation is having a regular sleep schedule. Since circadian rhythms regulate our immune system and, in turn, our inflammation levels, we need to regulate sleep.
Therefore, a regular sleep schedule is the best sleep schedule and a way to get some control over your circadian rhythm. Our brain functions are also improved through regular sleep, as we have mentioned above. We get better concentration, sharper thinking, and enhanced focus.
So, to sum up, the core 10 health benefits of sleep are as follows:
- helps you grow
- allows you to regenerate
- minimizes inflammation
- regulates your weight
- helps you focus
- improves memory
- spurs creativity
- curbs stress
- manages your moods
- helps you live longer
Why Is Sleep Important For the Brain?
Sleep is vital for the healthy development of our brains. During deep sleep and the REM sleep cycle, the information we have taken in during the day is now being consolidated. To put it simply, the quality and quantity of our sleep influence:
- how we regulate information
- how our brains process it
- how (if at all) we remember information
There are four stages of sleep, and having all four stages is vital in the connection between sleep and health. Namely, the four stages are non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) 1, 2, and 3, and the fourth state is simply rapid eye movement (REM), also known as active sleep.
Now, REM sleep is roughly 25% of our total sleep time. During this time, we dream, and if we skip this part, we will feel lethargic, depressed, and in general, make mistakes doing basically anything we do. One sleep cycle incorporates all of the above sleep phases and lasts for around 90 minutes, providing sleep benefits for men and women alike. Rapid eye movement sleep begins at around the 30 minutes mark.
As far as the concrete benefits of sleeping at night for your brain go:
- Your memory will become sharper and better.
- You will be in a better mood.
- Better sleep means better decision-making.
- More quality sleep means you will focus more easily on tasks.
If you are a student, make sure you get enough sleep. It has been shown that proper sleep improves students’ overall health and well-being, as they are more focused, and have improved concentration and academic performance. So there are benefits of sleep for students, too.
Basically, getting enough sleep means your brain will work better and faster. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the sleeping importance lies within helping nerve cells communicate with one another. The term they used is that sleep has a “housekeeping” role, that it removes toxins that have been building up within your brain while you were awake. So, “why do we sleep?” can be answered with—we sleep to remember better and flush out waste from our brains.
Sleep Importance During the Pandemic
During the pandemic, there are many challenges to sleep. Some of them include:
- the disruption of daily life
- greater family and work stress
- stress-related fatigue
- excess screen time
- depression and isolation
- anxiety and worry
So, here’s a list of some of the benefits of sleep during these challenging times:
- Sleep improves mental health, according to many studies.
- Sleep boosts the immune system.
- Sleep improves our mood, as sleep deficiency makes us irritable, with a lack of energy and feelings of depression.
- Sleep enhances our brain functions (complex thinking, memory, learning, and decision-making).
What Happens to Your Brain When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Sleep deprivation is simply what happens to your brain when you don’t get enough sleep for some period of time. The severity of its symptoms depends entirely on:
- how much sleep you need in general
- what kind of lifestyle you lead
- the quality of the sleep you do get
Based on research on sleep benefits, sleep deprivation prevents communication between brain cells. Now, we all know the typical symptoms of sleep deprivation:
- short temper
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings
- poor coordination and concentration
However, any prolonged lack of sleep can have some more severe effects. So, short term effects of sleep deprivation cause a multitude of relatively light issues (when compared to long-term problems):
- We are not as alert as we usually are.
- Our judgment is impaired.
- We are drowsy.
- Our stress levels go up.
These side-effects of sleep deprivation may not seem as problematic as they could be. What’s so bad about being tired, or drowsy, or just being in a bad mood? Well, the problem is—what if you’re behind the wheel? What if you were operating heavy machinery or perhaps driving a truck?
Now, the long term effects of sleep deprivation on the brain are more direct:
- poor academic performance
- high levels of depression
- increased anxiety rates
And these are just the effects on the brain. Long-term sleep deprivation also leads to obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues.
How Important Is Sleep to Mental Health?
There is definitely a link between sleep and mental health. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, depression and low-quality sleep are linked. Instead of reaping the benefits of getting enough sleep, 36% of patients that suffer from depression also have insomnia, while 21% of people have mental health issues. People are much more likely to develop anxiety and depression if they can’t get quality sleep on a regular basis.
What Can a Good Night’s Sleep Do for You?
A good night’s sleep can help you feel refreshed. It will do wonders for your mind, as there are many psychological benefits of sleep, helping you maintain focus throughout the day, all the while helping you process memories and information. You will also build up your immune system and keep your mood in check.
Moreover, many people confirm there are benefits of sleeping on the floor. It has been shown that it provides relief for back pain and sciatica, as a soft mattress doesn’t offer enough support. Also, sleep on the floor benefits include helping our posture. So, make sure you talk to your doctor and ask them for some tips on how to sleep through the night easily and serenely. See to it that you get some good sleep habits and make your sleep a priority.
Is Getting 8 Hours of Sleep Important?
The amount of sleep you need varies depending on your age and general genetics. However, you can be pretty confident that full night sleep, or eight hours, on average, will be enough for you to feel rested. It is also important for you to stay healthy.
“Are there any benefits of 12 hours of sleep?”—people ask. Actually, sleeping that long will do more harm than good. In fact, 7–8 hours of sleep will get you the greatest health benefits, and people who sleep longer than that have more calcium buildup in their heart arteries and also less flexible leg arteries.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
In order to figure out how much sleep you need, you first need to understand the difference between the sleep that just lets you get by and sleep that helps you function. One allows you to live, the other to have a life. According to a relevant Gallup poll, less than 40% of Americans get the recommended amount of sleep, and therefore, the associated benefits of good sleep.
So a bit more than half the population is essentially sleep deprived. Compared to 1942, when 84% of people had enough sleep, the data from today is clearly a cause for concern. People who sleep less than eight hours per day miss out on the many health benefits of sleep. How much you actually need varies from person to person.
However, if you want to be at your best, getting enough sleep may mean at least 7–9 hours of sleep every night. If you’re wondering: “Is 7 hours of sleep enough?” the answer might be both true and not true, depending on who you are. Namely, there is a difference between enough and between being happy and productive. An hour or two of extra sleep might feel like you’re losing out on your day, but you are, in fact, helping your life get better.
Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation has found that there are varying ranges for how many hours you need at night for the sleep benefits to kick in. Namely, adults aged 18 to 64 should get somewhere between 7–9 hours of sleep every night. As far as the elderly are concerned, ages 65 and up are good with 7–8 hours. Teenagers (14 to 17 years of age), however, need more. It’s recommended they get between 8–10 hours of slumber every night.
How Much Sleep Do Kids Need?
The number of hours a child needs for sleep also varies; it mostly depends on how old your child is. Newborn’s sleep schedule (0–3 months) should last between 14–17 hours each day. Infants aged 4–11 months need 12–15 hours.
Next, the toddler’s sleep schedule (1–2 years of age) requires 11–14 hours, compared to preschoolers (3–5) who need 10–13 hours of sleep every night. Finally, children between the ages of six and thirteen need somewhere between 9–11 hours of shut-eye.
Is It Necessary to Sleep at Night?
Essentially yes. While your body can and will get used to sleeping during the day and working during the night, you are still messing with your natural clock. In fact, research has shown that people who switch to irregular night shifts develop, among other things, metabolic issues and begin developing diabetes. So, the benefits of sleeping early and going to bed on time are more about avoiding problems than actually getting any advantages. Make sure you remember this.
How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Having a good sleep schedule is vital to keep regular and high-quality sleep. The best sleep aid is—being tired. So, you want to get yourself tired at times when you would like to go to bed. We suggest you avoid stimulants and tire yourself out as much as you can.
Try out melatonin supplements, don’t eat or exercise intensely before bed, and don’t nap during the day, no matter how tired you are. Furthermore, getting a good sleep schedule and learning to sleep well means being very strict about your schedule. Check out our tips to sleep better and talk to a professional if things get really bad. But, above all, be consistent.
Tricks and Tips to Help You Sleep and Improve Your Sleep Quality
Now, all of this information doesn’t matter that much if you can’t actually change something about your life. For this reason, we have prepared a section on how to generally improve your sleep quality with some general sleep hygiene tips. You need to keep in mind several things if you want to sleep better, but most of these center on lifestyle changes.
Some general sleep tips include:
- Stick to a good and consistent sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day (this includes the weekends).
- Keep your bedroom completely dark, and stick to a comfortable temperature—neither too hot nor too cold.
- Avoid any and all stimulants directly before bed, such as coffee, energy drinks, and cigarettes.
- Don’t eat too close to your bedtime.
- Avoid electronic screens from any gadget—tablet, smartphone, TV, computer screen.
- Relax before you go to bed by winding down with a book, a warm bath, or some yoga.
- Get as much regular exercise as possible (just not before bed).
The above sleeping tips include simple lifestyle changes. However, you should also consider natural remedies if you need extra help. For instance, eating garlic or taking garlic pills before bed is said to be beneficial.
This “fragrant” vegetable and spice has a very high concentration of zinc and sulfurous compounds (allicin, for example), which help you relax. They are also great at clearing out nasal passages, which can help you fall asleep and breathe better when you’re sleeping (and minimize snoring).
The main reasons why sleep is important include improved brain function, stable mood and emotions, a healthier body, and just making life better and easier. Your body regenerates while you sleep; it grows and heals at this time. Moreover, the importance of resting can be seen by your brain getting the chance to cement memories and process information. Finally, a good night’s rest has a tangible benefit to your mood and your overall sense of well-being.
Now, reaping the benefits of sleep means resting enough and practicing good sleep hygiene. Get somewhere between seven and nine hours per night, avoid electronics before bed, minimize other stimulants, and try to stick to a good sleep schedule.
How does sleep benefit the body?
Sleep has an impact on nearly every tissue in our bodies. In fact, it affects:
- growth and stress hormones
- the immune system
- blood pressure
- cardiovascular health
There are also many benefits of sleep for the skin. In fact, while we sleep, the skin goes through much of its restoration. So decreasing the time we sleep may affect the way we look.
Why is sleep so important at night?
Sleep quality and duration at night may impact many health risk factors, which are considered to cause chronic diseases, like heart disease. As a matter of fact, 15 studies have found that people who don’t sleep enough at night have an increased risk of heart disease or stroke than people who sleep 7–8 hours a night.
Why should you sleep more?
Sleep deficiency is a significant problem. Apart from leading to many chronic diseases, it is linked to an increased risk of injury in people. Moreover, research confirms that getting enough quality sleep is crucial for:
- mental health
- physical health
- life quality
How many hours of sleep do you need?
Each age group needs a different amount of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns (0–3 months old) need 14–17 hours of sleep, a 4-month old’s sleep schedule should be 12–15 hours of sleep, which stays the same until the infant turns one. Then, toddlers (1–2 years old) need 11–14 hours of sleep.
Moreover, preschool children (3–5 years old) require 10–13 hours of sleep, school-age children (6–13 years old) require 9–11 hours, and teenagers (14–17 years old) require 8–10 hours of sleep. Then again, if you are an adult and wonder: “How much sleep should I get?” the answer is—young adults (18–25 years old) and adults (26–64 years old) should sleep for 7–9 hours. Older adults (65+) need 7–8 hours of sleep.
How many hours of sleep do adults need?
Generally speaking, sleep is clearly essential at any age, as it restores our body, powers our mind, and fortifies every system in our bodies. That said, the National Sleep Foundation advises healthy adults to sleep between seven and nine hours every night.
What is the advantage of sleeping?
As time passes by, insufficient sleep can have negative impacts on more than just your morning mood. Getting quality sleep can improve a lot of issues, from your blood sugar to your workouts. Notably, some other benefits of sleep are:
- sharper brain
- weight control
- mood boost
- healthier heart
- steadier blood sugar
- athletic achievement