Sleep: How does it benefit you?

13th November 2019

Sleep. It’s something we all do and it has a huge effect on our daily life. We’ve all had a bad night’s sleep and woken up feeling unmotivated for what’s ahead. But how does sleep benefit you?

We spend around a third of our lives asleep; it’s an essential part of our routine. We’ve all felt dazed or unproductive when we’ve not gotten enough of it. Whilst we often look peaceful sleeping, our bodies are actually working hard. So, what benefits does sleep bring you?

1. Reduces stress

We’ve all had a poor night’s sleep in the past that has left us feeling irritable and frustrated. If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it elevates the levels of stress hormones. Naturally, that can mean you find situations you normally handle well more stressful. Unfortunately, stress can make it even more difficult to drift off. Taking some time to relax and clear your mind before bed can help here.

2. Help maintain a healthy weight

Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep isn’t a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. But it does play a role in maintaining your weight. Hormones that regulate your appetite and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods that you might be tempted to reach for increase when you don’t get enough sleep, so you will often feel hungrier. This is due to your body producing more of a hormone called Ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage.

3. Improve your memory

Scientists used to think our brain switched off and rested when we were asleep. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Sleep gives your brain a chance to organise and store memories. As a result, being well-rested can help improve your memory and quickly recall experiences. This is part of the reason why we sometimes struggle to remember things when really tired, it’s your body’s way of telling you it’s not getting enough sleep.

4. Support your immune system

Our immune system is an essential part of staying healthy and fighting off infections. Whilst you’re sleeping your body is producing extra protein molecules that can give your immune system a boost and improve the odds of remaining fighting fit. If you feel run down or have a cold you’ll often want to spend the day sleeping, this is the reason why.

5. Lower your blood pressure

Sleep puts you in a state of relaxation. As a result, it can help reduce blood pressure and keep it under control. If you suffer from high blood pressure, it can increase your chances of having a heart attack and stroke. Of course, improving sleeping habits shouldn’t be used in place of blood pressure medication you take but used to supplement it.

6. Keep your heart healthy

Linking with the above benefit, sleep helps to keep your heart healthy too. Lower levels of stress and controlled blood pressure can help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

7. Puts you in a better mood

Finally, being well-rested simply makes us feel better. We’ve all had experiences of waking up and not feeling ready for the day after a poor night’s sleep. In contrast, you’ll feel more productive, controlled and in an overall happier mood when you’ve had just the right amount of sleep.

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

  • Reduce your exposure to blue light, which is emitted from electronic devices, before bed. The light can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime, making it more difficult to get to sleep. You don’t have to give up your phone or laptop though. There are apps that can block or reduce blue light.
  • Cut back on the coffee. This is one we all know, caffeine can stimulate your body and keep you going when you’re tired. However, did you know that caffeine can have an effect for up to eight hours? If you crave a coffee in the late afternoon, it’s best to stick with decaf.
  • Get into a habit. Where possible going to sleep and getting up at regular times can help create a routine. Sleeping at consistent times can also help you get better quality sleep.
  • Give your bedroom an update. Sometimes it’s your environment that makes it difficult to drift off. Creating a relaxing environment is essential. That includes reducing noise, getting the temperature just right, and minimising light where possible.