Are you trying to be healthier, and take good care of yourself? Maybe you have adopted a healthier diet, started an exercise program, or stopped smoking—great! There is another area of your life that could probably use some help, and that is getting enough sleep. Sleep is not emphasized as much as diet and exercise, but plays a vital role in maintaining good health. With our busy lives, it can seem hard to fit in enough sleep with all of the other responsibilities we have. But sleep is crucial for not just your health, but your overall quality of life. Read on to learn more about all the great benefits of sleep, and how to get more of it!

Strengthen Your Immune System

While you are sleeping, your body is still hard at work repairing and building. Sleep is essential for your immune system, and an ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way that your immune system responds to harmful or foreign substances. If you don’t get enough sleep you will be more susceptible to the next cold or flu virus that is going around, and your recovery time from those illnesses could be longer as well. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold (compared to people who slept 8 hours or more). Illness can keep you home from work, make you unable to care for your family, and compromise your quality of life. To stay healthy and keep your immune system strong, make sure you make sleep a priority.

Boost Your Memory

Always forgetting where your keys are? Can’t keep your appointments straight, or feel like you have a mental fog? You may just be sleep deprived. When your memory is not as sharp as it could be, day to day tasks can become challenging, and things like your job performance will suffer. Your mind is still busy while you are sleeping, and memories can be strengthened during this time. Consolidation is the process by which a memory becomes stable and fixed in our minds, and it appears that a lot of this happens during sleep. Studies have shown that a solid eight hours of sleep after learning a new skill makes your recall better. Your brain replays the day’s’ events while you sleep, and this helps your memory. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in problems with memory, concentration, and focus. Boost your memory by getting enough sleep every night!

Weight Management

Studies have shown that people who sleep less tend to weigh more, and being overweight has many negative health consequences. The connection between a lack of sleep and obesity has been proven again and again, and there are many factors. When you don’t get enough sleep you are less likely to be motivated to exercise, and may remain sedentary much of the day. Sleep deprivation also can make you hungry, and people who get an adequate amount of sleep eat fewer calories than their counterparts. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormone production , which regulate appetite and can influence how many calories you eat in a day. More calories and less exercise builds up over time, and you may become overweight or even obese. It doesn’t seem intuitive that sleep and weight would be so connected, but study after study have shown that they are. Get enough sleep to maintain a healthy weight, and to have the energy you want to be active during the day.

Get Creative

Whether your job allows you creative license, or you have a creative hobby you love, sleep can give you an extra boost. Many people say they are their most productive during the morning hours, and this is because of the great benefits of sleep on the mind. If you have been in a creative slump, consider how much sleep you are getting, and try to allow yourself more time to fully recharge.

Growth

Sleep is incredibly important for growing children. While one night of missed sleep might not be a big deal, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with the normal growth seen in children and teenagers. During sleep growth hormone is released, and this hormone may be suppressed if you are not getting enough sleep. Make sure your growing kids are getting the sleep they need to have normal physical growth.

School Performance

If your children are not getting enough sleep their grades and school performance may suffer. Attention and learning disorders are more common with children who do not get adequate amounts of sleep, and even college students have been shown to have worse grades the less sleep they got. Not only will you do poorly on tests and presentations, your day will probably feel like it is dragging on forever and you would just rather go back to bed. To ensure that your kids are doing well in school, make sure they are getting an appropriate amount of sleep for their age.

Help Stress and Depression

The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to be stressed, anxious, or depressed. A shocking 90 percent of people who struggle with depression also complain about poor sleep quality. Getting enough sleep gives you emotional stability, which keeps you from becoming easily angered, worried, or overly anxious. Sleep needs to be consistent to help with your mental state, and you can’t just try to cram in a little more over the weekend. A regular sleep schedule will make you a more calm, collected, and happy person!

Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is linked to a myriad of health problems, including: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and even premature aging. Sleeping less than six hours a night has shown higher levels of inflammation than in those people who get a good amount. You heart and blood vessels are repaired while you sleep, and sleep changes how your body reacts to insulin and regulating blood sugars. Inflammatory diseases can leave you fatigued, achy, and interfere with daily tasks. Stay healthy and feel great with a good amount of sleep!

Avoid Mistakes

Whether you are at work, at home, or driving, sleep deprivation can set you up for a dangerous accident. Studies comparing drowsy driving with drunk driving statistics found that being tired contributed to more fatal accidents from driving off the road. Sleepiness can affect your decision making and your response time, and can lead to risky choices. Being sleep deprived has even been cited as making you more likely to take financial risks that may negatively impact your life. Stay safe, and get the right amount of sleep.

Tips For Sleeping Better

Maybe you are convinced of the benefits of good sleep, but just don’t know how to incorporate more sleep into your life. There are several steps you can take to help you sleep more, and sleep better, and getting on a consistent sleep schedule is a big one. When you are going to bed and waking up at the same times every day you regulate your body’s internal clock and will fall asleep easier and wake up more refreshed. This goes for the weekends too; staying up late even two nights a week can disrupt an otherwise stable sleep schedule. Exercise can also help you fall asleep, and sleep better; just make sure that you are not exercising too close to bedtime. Having a comfortable bed, pillows, and a room that is dark and cool are also conducive to sleeping. Avoiding screens (including your phone) and caffeine before bed can help your brain unwind and let you fall asleep more easily. It may take a few weeks to get on a better sleep schedule, but the benefits are worth it!

Here at American Health Specialist, we love giving you great health tips! Getting enough sleep is just as important as drinking enough water, getting enough exercise, eating the right foods, and getting your yearly physical. If you are in Flint, contact our health clinic today to schedule an appointment!