The benefits of sleep impact nearly every area of our daily lives. While it may be obvious that sleep is beneficial, most people don’t realize how much sleep they need and why it is so important. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, your body manages and requires sleep in much the same way it regulates the need for food, drinking and breathing. Extensive research has been done on the effects of sleep. These studies have consistently shown that sleep plays a vital role in promoting physical health, longevity and emotional well-being.

Sleep Helps to Repair the Body

Your body produces extra protein molecules while you are sleeping that help strengthen your ability to fight infection and stay healthy. These molecules help your immune system mend your body at the cellular level when you are stressed, or have been exposed to compromising elements such as pollutants and infectious bacteria.

Sleep Helps Keep Your Heart Healthy

Your cardiovascular system is constantly under pressure and sleep helps to reduce the level of stress and inflammation in your body. High levels of “inflammatory makers” are linked to heart disease and strokes. Sleep can also keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which play a role in heart disease) in check.

Sleep Reduces Stress

A good night sleep can help lower pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones, which are a natural result of today’s fast paced lifestyle. High blood pressure can be life threatening and the physical effects of stress can produce “wear and tear” on your body, and degenerate the cells which propel the aging process. Sleep helps to slow these effects and encourages a state of relaxation.

Sleep Improves Your Memory

The foggy feeing that you struggle with when deprived of sleep makes it difficult to concentrate. This often leads to memory problems with facts, faces, lessons or even conversations. Sleeping well eliminates these difficulties because, as you sleep, your brain is busy organising and correlating memories. One of the great benefits of sleep is that it allows your brain to better process new experiences and knowledge, increasing your understanding and retention. So, next time you hear someone say, “Why don’t you sleep on it?” Take the advice.

Sleep Helps Control Body Weight Issues

Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. Studies have shown that when you are deprived of sleep, the normal hormone balances are interrupted and your appetite increases. Unfortunately, this increase in appetite doesn’t lead to a craving for fruits and veggies. Rather, your body longs for foods high in calories, fats and carbohydrates. So, if you are trying to lose those stubborn few kilograms that just keep hanging around, consider the benefits of sleep each day. Research has also shown that lack of sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body processes glucose, which is the carbohydrate your cells use for fuel. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School reports that a study showed a healthy set of people who have reduced their sleep from eight to four hours per night processed glucose more slowly. Other research initiatives have revealed that adults who usually sleep less than five hours per night have increased risk of developing diabetes.

With sufficient sleep during the night, many people still become agitated or moody the following day. When limited sleep becomes a chronic issue, it can lead to long-term mood disorder such as depression and anxiety.

The benefits of sleep are extensive and can make a difference in your quality of life, as well as the length of your life. Therefore, it is vital to place a priority on getting ample and consistent sleep.