Everyone knows that as humans we need to sleep, but do you know all of the benefits sleep provides? After reading this post you might think twice about playing the next Netflix episode and instead catching some extra Z's.
Sleep helps improve learning. If you are trying to learn a new skill, memorize, retain or recall new information, getting enough sleep on a regular basis will help with this. Getting a good nights sleep is crucial for transferring new information from short term to long term memory.
Sleep helps improve decision making, problem solving and emotional regulation. When we are tired we are less focused and it makes it easier to give into impulses, resulting in riskier choices. Our capacity to exercise willpower is reduced and we tend to make less optimal decisions.
Sleep plays a large role in hormone regulation, specifically hunger and stress hormones such as ghrelin, leptin and cortisol. Lack of sleep can increase levels of ghrelin which is the hormone that makes us feel hungry and decrease levels of leptin which is the hormone that signals when we feel full. This can result in consuming more food on days we didn't get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can also increase cortisol levels, which is the hormone responsible for stress. Elevated cortisol levels can cause inflammation.
Sleep is also essential for cell and tissue repair as well as building muscle. If you're putting time and effort in at the gym but not getting enough sleep at night, you're going to have a hard time seeing results! Lack of sleep is also associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Not getting enough sleep can lower your immune system and make it harder to fight off common viruses and infections.
Adults should aim for about 7-9 hours of sleep each night. The amount of sleep each person needs will vary. Some people can function perfectly fine on 6 hours whiles others may need 10. If you're someone who has trouble sleeping there are few things you can try to help improve your sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every night/day, avoiding bright lights late a night, keeping your sleep environment cool and not drinking too much water close to bedtime are strategies you can implement to help get a good nights sleep!