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Getting enough sleep has a lot of proven health benefits. Scientists have learned more and more as they've gained a better understanding of the role of sleep.
You know it doesn't feel good when you don't get enough sleep. But you may not realize how far-reaching the impact can be.
This article lists 10 ways sleep is good for your health.
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per day.
Getting less than six or seven hours of sleep for just one night can affect you the next day.
Chronically missing out on sleep increases your risk of disease.
During sleep, your body releases hormones. Some of them keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.
Lack of sleep deprives you of these hormones. That's associated with:
1. High blood pressure
2. Worse heart function
3. Over time, heart disease
This is an even bigger problem if you already have a heart condition.
Sleep helps regulate your metabolism. That's the way your body converts food to energy.
Sleep deprivation can cause many problems with metabolism, including fluctuating blood sugar levels.
This can be a problem if you have diabetes. It also raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Blood sugar extremes also affect your:
2. Energy levels
3. Mental function
Sleep helps your mind and body relax and recover from your day. When you're sleep deprived, your body releases stress hormones.
Stress can make you react in ways that aren't productive. You may act out of fear or make rash decisions. Or you may be irritable.
A poor night's sleep can make you feel anxious. This may last until you finally get some much-needed rest.
Sleep regulates your immune system. When you don't get enough, irregular immune system activity can cause inflammation.
You may not notice excess inflammation. But it can have an effect on your body.
Chronic inflammation damages structures and increases your risk of many health conditions. A few examples include:
3. Heart disease
Research suggests that people who sleep less are more likely to be overweight or obese.
If you want to lose or maintain weight, don't forget that good sleep is part of the equation.
Sleep helps you maintain your physical abilities. Studies show sleep deprivation leads to short-term balance problems.
That's called postural instability. It can lead to injuries and falls. Even mild instability can cause problems during sports or exercise.
A good night's sleep makes you feel energized and alert. This helps you focus and get things done.
It's easier to exercise when you're energetic and alert. So that's an indirect benefit of getting enough sleep.
Being engaged and active throughout your day feels good. And being more active all day makes another good night's sleep more likely.
Sleep and Memory
Sleep appears to play a big role in what's called memory consolidation.
During sleep, your brain makes connections. It links events, feelings, and sensory input to form memories.
Deep sleep is important for this. So more quality sleep can improve your memory.
Executive function involves complex thinking. That includes things like problem-solving, planning, and making decisions. It can also affect your alertness and memory.
Executive function helps you with work, school, social interactions, and more. One night of sleep deprivation can impair executive function the next day.
While you sleep, your body works hard to repair damage. The damage can be from stress, ultraviolet rays, and other harmful things you're exposed to.
Your cells produce certain proteins while you sleep. They form the building blocks of cells. That lets cells repair the day's damage and keep you healthy.
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