7 Surprising Health Benefits of Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Waking up after a good night's sleep

If you're like most people, you've got a lot on your plate every day. You work every day, take care of your family and home, and try to have some sort of personal life.

With everything that you have going on, it's not always easy to get a full eight hours of sleep a night, which is recommended for adults. You might try to squeak by with six hours or less and expect yourself to maintain your life.

The truth is that depriving yourself of sleep is detrimental to your health, causing memory problems, weight gain, depression and a host of other problems. However, a good night's sleep has some positively amazing health benefits.

1. Sleep Reduces Inflammation

Experts say that sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleeping too much, lead to increased inflammation in the body. This is important to note since inflammation is associated with other diseases and ailments, including heart disease and cancers. In fact, excessive inflammation is just as harmful to health as being sedentary and consuming an unhealthy diet of junk food.

Doctors and researchers say that adults need a full seven to eight hours of sleep per night to ward off inflammation. What's more, those that change their sleep behaviors to suit this rhythm actually reduce the risk of future bouts of inflammation and diseases.

2. Sleep Improves Memory

When you're not well rested, it is downright impossible to keep focused during the day and your memory is terrible. You also have trouble remembering what you got up to do, or what you heard earlier in the day, or where you've got to be later. These seemingly simple episodes of forgetfulness are frustrating, but they can also be a sign that you're sleep deprived.

It's vital that your brain has time to process the information it's taken in during the day and consolidate new memories. Specifically, deep sleep is necessary. This is the time your brain can focus solely on this function, which will improve your memory and make learning new things faster and easier.

3. Sleep Reduces Depression

According to studies reported by the National Institutes for Health, three-quarters of depression sufferers also experience sleep difficulties. In fact, sleep disturbances are the key symptom of major depression. The problem increases with age, meaning that senior citizens may be more prone to depression because of insomnia. They also conclude that in order to successfully treat depressed patients, sleep issues must be addressed.

Sticking to a schedule, sleeping on a comfortable mattress and creating a quiet, warm environment are key ways to start improving sleep. In some cases, a doctor will prescribe a sleep aid that is used when needed to help induce sleep, other times herbal teas, aromatherapy, and other techniques work.

4. Sleep Helps With Pain Management

Chronic pain makes every aspect of life difficult to deal with, and it's no different for sleep. Acute pain has an even stronger impact on sleep. What you may not realize, however, is that lack of sleep actually reduces your pain threshold, meaning you will hurt more. It ends up being a vicious circle of pain and sleepless nights, both making the other worse.

An uncomfortable mattress, room temperature that's too hot or cold, noise and light are the factors most pain sufferers associate with their insomnia. Prescribed pain medications, used under the supervision of a physician, can help some. Others rely on deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to relieve the pain and drift off to sleep.

5. Sleep Reduces Injury Risk

Driving while drowsy is perhaps the best example of how dangerous sleep deprivation is. It's hard to focus, and decision-making skills and reflexes are dulled. Conditions like that are just an accident waiting to happen. In fact, experts say that drivers who are sleep deprived cause around 6,000 fatal accidents and over 40,000 injuries a year.

It's not just driving that's affected. If you haven't slept properly, you're more prone to accidents on the job and at home. What's more, you're more likely to be injured, or injure someone else, in the process. Think of a good night's sleep as an insurance policy that protects you and other people as well. No matter how busy you may think you are, you have to make time to get a solid block of sleep.

6. Sleep Controls Weight

If you struggle with your weight, your sleep habits may be partially to blame. The Mayo Clinic says that losing sleep may actually encourage you to put on more weight. One of the key reasons this happens is lack of sleep encourages the production of appetite-stimulating hormones. Those cravings for junk food late at night are actually your body's way of telling you to get some sleep.

The best way to control your cravings and get your weight under control is to follow sage advice from the experts. Continue to get plenty of exercise, eat healthy food, drink plenty of water and sleep deeply every night.

7. Sleep Reduces Stress

A challenging job, bumper to bumper traffic, family matters to attend to, and a world full of frightening news all create an immense amount of stress. Over time, it is more difficult to relax and go to sleep at night. And then the lack of sleep causes even more stress.

All that stress makes you irritable, forgetful and struggling to focus. Changing your sleep habits is key to ending this circle of stress and sleep deprivation. Some ways to do this include limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, spending time meditating, or practicing other relaxation techniques, and lowering the lights.

The importance of getting an adequate amount of sleep every night cannot be understated. The good news is that you can take charge of your own sleep patterns, and improve your life and health. It all begins with changing some bad habits, altering your routines and finally, giving yourself a comfortable place to rest.

Having trouble sleeping? Contact us and we'll be happy to talk to you about ways that you can get a good night’s sleep. Together, we'll find a solution that leaves you feeling rested and refreshed each morning, ready to face the day.

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