Sleep scientists remind us: Adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. No amount of work, best online slots, or studying is worth your health and happiness. On the other hand, studies show that not getting enough sleep can negatively affect various aspects of your personal well-being. Here are ten reasons why getting enough sleep is so important, and how it affects your memory, concentration, fitness, metabolism, and mental balance.
Why is Getting Enough Sleep So Important
Poor Sleep Is Linked to Being Overweight
There is a strong correlation between being overweight and not getting enough sleep. People who sleep little are more prone to weight gain than those who sleep enough. Sleeping less than normal is one of the major risks of obesity. One large-scale review of studies found that people who slept little were much more likely to develop obesity. Among children, the odds were 89%. Among adults, it was 55%. If you want to lose weight, quality sleep is essential.
People Who Sleep Enough Consume Fewer Calories
Another reason to get enough sleep, closely related to the previous one. Studies show that people who are sleep-deprived eat more. Lack of sleep disrupts the production of hormones responsible for the desire to eat and impairs the regulation of appetite. The result is increased levels of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger, and decreased levels of leptin, which suppresses appetite.
Good Sleep Can Increase Concentration and Productivity
Sleep is important for concentration, productivity, and performance. One study showed how a lack of it affects brain function. Medical interns who worked shifts of 24 hours or more made 36% more serious medical errors compared to interns who worked shorter shifts and were able to get enough sleep. The authors of another scientific paper found that the effect of not getting enough sleep was similar to alcohol intoxication. On the contrary, in experiments in which participants got enough sleep, they coped with tasks more easily and their memory worked better.
Quality Sleep Improves Physical Fitness
In a study involving basketball players, more sleep significantly improved the participants’ speed, accuracy, reaction time, and mental state. Another experiment involved more than 2,800 older women. It turned out that those who slept worse walked slower, had a less strong handshake, and found it harder to cope with daily activities on their own.
Lack of Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of chronic diseases, among them cardiovascular disease. A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at a much greater risk of experiencing a stroke or heart disease than those who sleep 7 to 8 hours.
Unhealthy Sleep Negatively Affects Glucose Metabolism and Can Lead to Diabetes
Restricting sleep in experimental conditions resulted in decreased insulin sensitivity, a situation that may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The link between poor sleep and diabetes has also been pointed out by other scientific work. In another study, young people had to sleep four hours for six consecutive nights. In such a short time, they developed metabolic abnormalities that preceded diabetes. The symptoms went away after a week of more sleep.
Poor Sleep Is Linked to Depression
Mental problems such as depression are strongly associated with poor quality and sleep disorders. It is known that 90% of people who suffer from depression complain about sleeping poorly. Scientists have even found a link between inadequate sleep and an increased risk of suicide. Conversely, people with sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, are significantly more likely to suffer from depression than those without sleep problems.
Good Sleep Strengthens the Immune System
Even a small loss of sleep led to a decline in the body’s immune functions. In one two-week study, scientists gave participants drops with a virus that causes one of the common colds. It turned out that those who slept 7 hours each had three times the risk of developing a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.
Sleep Deprivation Is Associated With More Intense Inflammatory Processes
Lack of sleep activates unwanted inflammatory markers and triggers cell destruction. Scientists have seen a clear link between sleep deprivation and prolonged inflammation in the digestive tract. And one study found that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease are twice as likely to experience a relapse as those who get enough sleep.
Sleep Affects Our Emotions and Social Interactions
Emotion recognition tests indicate that sleep is important to our social lives. In one study, for example, sleep-deprived people were worse at recognizing signs of anger and joy.