Sleep benefits your body in more ways than you might think
A good night’s sleep does more than just have you waking up feeling rested and ready to start the day. It may come as a surprise, but sleep offers many benefits that seemingly have nothing to do with energy levels. Here are some of the more interesting and surprising ways sleep benefits your body.
Sleep benefits your memory
Let’s start with one of the most important parts of your body: your brain. The proper amount of sleep does wonders for your brain function. Sleep can help you process new information.
When you’re asleep, your brain consolidates information you just learned into memories and stores them away. If you’re trying to learn something new, whether its physical or mental, practice or study it then get some sleep. When you wake up, you should have a better grasp on it.
Sleep helps with inflammation
Research has shown that poor sleep can contribute to inflammation in your body. Problems with Inflammation are linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. Not only will too little sleep trigger inflammation, but too much sleep can have the same effect. Aim for 7-9 hours a night to avoid low-grade, systemic inflammation.
Sleep can help you live longer
With sleep so closely related to your health, it makes sense sleep can play a role in your life longevity. Getting less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis can negatively affect cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. One study compared people getting five hours or less of sleep to those getting seven hours over the weekend. The study found that getting an average of five hours or less increased odds of death by 52%.
Sleep can enhance your athletic performance
There’s a bidirectional relationship between sleep and athletic performance. Different studies for various sports have all pointed to the fact that sleep can help athletic performance. One Stanford study showed that men’s basketball players who extended their sleep to 10 hours ran faster and shot better. Another study with swimmers showed they had a quicker reaction time off the diving block, when they got more sleep. A separate study showed tennis players had more accurate serves when they increased their sleep by nine hours a week. Furthermore, lack of sleep can lead to quicker exhaustion, slower decision making and higher risk for injury.
Sleep can help control your weight
If the above sleep benefits weren’t convincing, perhaps this will get your attention: A 2019 study showed that four nights of poor sleep can actually make you gain weight. This study revealed that sleeping poorly changes the way your body stores fat, while increasing your risk for obesity. There is also research that suggests lack of sleep can lead to increased appetite and diminished feeling of fullness. Furthermore, other studies have concluded that sleep deprivation affects food preferences. People who are sleep deprived tend to prefer foods high in calories and carbs. In addition, getting less sleep can disrupt your metabolism, further causing you to gain weight.
Sleep benefits your creative juices
A full night’s rest is known to boost creativity levels as it fosters improved connections in the brain. This allows you to make deeper connections to improve critical thinking while awake. Research has shown that the emotional components of memory may strengthen while we’re asleep, helping spur the creative process. Furthermore, the vivid dreams we experience during REM sleep can spark our creativity. So if you find yourself stuck on a creative project, sleep on it and see what happens the next day. Chances are you’ll find the creative solution to your issue.
Sleep cleanses “trash” out of our brains
A recent study revealed that a certain fluid in our brain and spinal cord helps wash trash from our brain. Cerebrospinal fluid washes in and out, like waves, to help our brain get rid of accumulated metabolic waste. The waste includes potentially toxic proteins that can hinder the flow of information between neurons. Furthermore, another study found that specialized immune cells are more active during sleep, performing maintenance work in our brain.
Napping can make you smarter
Turns out taking a snooze during the day also has its benefits. One study compared people who didn’t nap or only took short naps to those who nap at least an hour. The study found the former had mental decreases 4 to 6 times greater than the latter. Napping can also lower your stress and improve your mood.