The Importance of Sleep
Feeling terrible after a bad night’s sleep is expected. Grogginess, fatigue, and irritability are just some of the symptoms you’ll experience. Though these symptoms are annoying – and in some cases downright miserable – they aren’t the worst that’s happening. According to sleep experts, real damage can be done to the human body if it’s not getting enough sleep, making sleep essential to your health. Here are some reasons why there is such an emphasis on the importance of sleep.
How Sleep Works:
Before you can understand what makes sleep so important to your health, you’ll first need to understand how the sleep process works.
Usually, a body runs through a 4-stage sleep cycle every night, this cycle repeating 4-6 times before morning.
The first three stages are part of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) Sleep. These are the stages of sleep when your body isn’t dreaming, your bodily functions begin to slow and relax, and many parts of the body are restored. It is also during these initial stages that the deepest sleep is attained. The body spends about 80% of the night cycling through these three stages.
The final, or fourth, stage of the sleep cycle is known as REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep. This is the stage of sleep when your brain activity spikes and you experience dreams. Your major muscles, such as your arms and legs, will experience temporary paralysis during this time. Despite your muscles being relaxed, things like your breathing and blood pressure will increase.
When these sleep cycles are disrupted, havoc is wreaked on the body and its health.
How Poor Sleep Affects Your Health
The main thing people think of when considering heart health issues is heart attacks. Research has shown that there is a 20% increase in risk for heart attacks for individuals who don’t get a sufficient night’s sleep. However, it’s not just heart attacks that people experiencing sleep deprivation need to be concerned with. When the heart isn’t able to get the rest it needs during sleep, it can negatively affect your blood pressure, leading to chronic blood pressure issues and a higher risk of heart disease.
As previously stated, lack of sleep can cause blood pressure issues. Increases in blood pressure have been linked to episodes of blood flow being cut off from the brain, known as strokes. People who experience strokes can have long-lasting health issues like struggling to form speech, chronic pain, and partial paralysis.
Memory and mental performance are also negatively impacted by poor sleep. This is particularly true for individuals whose sleep is disrupted during stage 3 of the cycle, or who never make it to stage 3 due to issues maintaining sleep. In stage 3, there is a reduction in the brain’s activity, allowing it to enter deep sleep. During this time, the brain can restore itself, process memories, and form critical thinking processes. If a person doesn’t get a good night’s sleep, their brain’s performance during the day is negatively affected as well. Focus, reaction time, and judgment are all going to struggle.
Since the brain struggles when functioning on lack of sleep, the brain’s capacity to regulate emotions is lowered when deprived of rest. This not only makes it harder for someone to handle overwhelming emotions, but it also creates a breeding ground for more serious mental health issues. In the case of depression, multiple studies have shown a link between individuals suffering from insomnia and increased depression. Individuals running on low sleep also have increased anxiety and are stuck fighting this anxiety with brains that aren’t at full capacity.
During sleep, your muscles are given a chance to rest and restore themselves. This allows them to be able to perform at peak ability the following day. Not only is this essential for athletes who rely on their bodies to perform with high endurance, energy, and speed, but it’s also important for individuals who have to perform everyday activities like chasing their kids around the house or lifting equipment at work.
Like the rest of your body, the immune system requires time to rest and recover. The only chance it gets at this is during sleep. If sleep is disrupted, the immune system is left at lowered capacity, leaving it unprepared to face whatever health hazards it may need to fight the following day.
Chronic Health Issues
Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep at night are much more likely to develop chronic health issues. One of the biggest issues is the managing of nutritional factors inside the body. Without adequate sleep, your body struggles to maintain proper insulin levels, process carbs and sugar, lose weight, and get the nutrition it needs. This not only leaves you feeling hungry and struggling with things like obesity, but it can also cause the development of diabetes.
Better Sleep, Better Health
Now that you understand that sleep is essential for more than just your comfort, it’s time to assess your own sleep patterns and decide if your health may be negatively affected by them. The body of adults between the ages of 18 and 60 requires at least 7 hours of sleep at night to be able to function properly. The health of adults older than 60 benefits from at least 9 hours. This sleep should be uninterrupted, as every time a person wakes up their sleep cycle is broken, and any rest or repairs occurring within the body are disrupted.
Whether it’s poor sleeping habits, lack of time for sleep, or sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea, whatever is causing you not to sleep enough is also causing your health to suffer. It’s time to get to the root of your problems and fix them before you do damage to your body that can’t be undone.
Take action and book a consultation today with the sleep experts at Sleep Science Academy.