We all know that sleep is good for us, but many of us are unaware of just how important it is. The last decade or so have been massive in sleep research. Our understanding of this mysterious yet ubiquitous phenomenon has expanded massively in recent years and we now have an incredible understanding of the amazing things that sleep does for our general health and wellbeing. Want to know more? Well here are 6 ways your health improves with better sleep:
1. Helps you watch your weight: Yes, getting enough sleep each and every night can help you control your weight. The reason for this is that the two hormones that control your appetite (leptin and ghrelin) are regulated while you sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep they will be imbalanced during the day and you will not only have a bigger appetite but you will also crave fatty and unhealthy foods.
2. Makes you feel happier: Sleep is a critical mood regulator as well. For a long time we have understood that there is a connection between sleep and moods (especially depression) but in recent years the research has proven that sleep does actually make you happy. There are complex neurological mechanisms at work which we do not understand yet but there is no doubt that shuteye makes you happier.
3. Makes you live longer: Lots of studies (including the single biggest sleep study of all time involving over 1 million people!), have shown that people who sleep between 6-7.5 hours a night every night are more likely to live longer than those who under or oversleep. In fact, people who get less than 6 or more than 7.5 have a significantly higher chance of dying young so sleep the right amount to live longer.
4. Makes you more attractive: A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal looked at people’s attractiveness dependent on how much they had slept. The researchers photographed 23 people after both sleep deprivation and a normal night’s sleep. Then these pictures were rated by people and the results were conclusive. Sleep deprived people are less attractive.
5. Boosts your immune system: There have been many studies that have examined how sleep helps the immune system. They have looked at everything from common colds to cancer and have shown every time that people who are sleeping well get better quicker and heal faster. If you want to be healthy you want to sleep well.
6. Improves your concentration and memory: Sleep plays a fundamental role in both cognition and memory. During sleep the brain processes the day’s events, storing them so that they can be accessed the next day. People who are sleep deprived constantly score lower in both memory and cognition tests.
Sleep really is this important. The more we learn the more we realise its central importance to almost every aspect of our lives, so get the sleep you need to gain these benefits!
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