The effects of one night of poor sleep are often immediate and incredibly visible, both for you and the people around you. Feeling cranky, groggy, and slow the morning after a nightmare is one thing – but once poor sleep becomes a common occurrence, it’s easy to forget how being “well-rested” feels like.
This is why many people who suffer from chronic sleep disorders tend to put off their insomnia or sleep apnea treatment indefinitely: the symptoms just become a part of their lives. The underlying health effects of their poor sleep will continue unchecked. It’s time to break the cycle!
What is “Proper Sleep” Anyway?
For adults, the general recommendation is to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a day. However, it’s not just the amount of time spent lying in bed that counts: proper sleep should be quiet, deep, largely uninterrupted, and restful to be healthy. That means that if you keep waking up in the middle of the night, have nightmares, or wake up feeling more tired and hungry than when you first went to bed, it doesn’t count as proper sleep.
Benefits of Proper Sleep
While we sleep, several restorative functions occur throughout the body. These will all how a deep and cumulative impact on your health – one that goes way beyond simply craving the next cup of coffee. Take a look at the most impactful ones.
Sleep Protects Your Heart Health
Many studies have shown that people who regularly get good sleep are up to 37% less likely to develop heart disease. Sleep has two major effects on your heart: first, it lowers your stress levels – and it’s no secret that a highly stressful lifestyle plays a major role in blood pressure. Second, sleep also lowers your levels of inflammation across veins and arteries.
This inflammation, when left unchecked, is responsible for the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a common cause for heart attacks and strokes. This is why conditions like sleep apnea are now listed as a risk factor for heart disease!
Sleep Helps Control Your Appetite
Diet and portion control are hugely important for those of us who are trying to get back to a healthy weight. If you feel you need an extra boost to keep your dinner portions healthy, why not look at sleep?
Proper sleep can help the body secrete leptin (a hormone that curbs hunger) more rapidly after we begin eating. It can also curb the production of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and cravings, throughout the day. This is why a major study in Spain included sleep quality as one of the main factors that would determine the success of weight-loss interventions among obese patients.
Sleep Improves Your Athletic Performance
Whether you are obsessively training for a 10K or just want to be ready for a casual weekend baseball game, your path to success will likely involve bed.
During sleep, the body doesn’t just replenish energy levels: it also repairs the muscles and joints it has used during the day, allowing them to become larger and stronger. This will allow you to continuously improve and to keep having fun, with less pain and shorter-lasting soreness. Just look at the achievements of industry giants: superstar Shaquille O’Neal and NFL giants Warren Sapp and Percy Harvin all say sleep apnea treatment has improved or saved their careers.
Sleep Reduces Your Risk of Depression and Anxiety
Do you feel miserable after a poor night of sleep? Then you should try to make sure it doesn’t occur too often! Depression and anxiety disorders are both now incredibly common, with figures showing they affect up to a third of adults in the U.S. Both are known to cause insomnia and nightmares – but studies now show that periods of poor sleep can also trigger a new depressive episode.
Sleep Boosts your Immune System
There’s a reason why you feel sleepy when coming down with a cold: during sleep, your white blood cells are busily working to create antibodies and fight off any infection. However, even when you are not actively ill, your immune system is continuously at work preventing future illness.
Chronic sleep problems, on the other hand, can lower your T-cell production, which means your body will be unguarded next time someone sneezes on you at the bus.
What is Keeping You from Sleeping Properly?
Although lack of sleep is incredibly common nowadays, pointing out the exact cause of it is a lot harder. Common disorders such as insomnia, nightmares, and sleep terrors all seem to have a genetic component to them but are also influenced by your mental health. Meanwhile, disorders such as sleep apnea are affected by body weight, the thickness of your neck, or your sleeping posture.
This is why reaching out to experts is so important: your decision to seek counseling for stress, or to undergo sleep apnea treatment can impact your entire body, and improve the quality of your entire day.