Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating a balanced, nutritious diet and exercising. Though sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can put your health and safety at risk, which is why it’s essential that you prioritize and protect your sleep on a daily basis.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of good sleep.
1. May help you maintain or lose weight
Numerous studies have associated short sleep — defined as sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night — with a greater risk of weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI). In fact, a 2020 analysis found that adults who slept fewer than 7 hours per night had a whopping 41% increased risk of developing obesity. Meanwhile, sleeping longer didn’t increase the risk.
2. Can improve concentration and productivity
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. Cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance are all negatively affected by sleep deprivation
3. Can maximize athletic performance
Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. Numerous studies have shown that adequate sleep can enhance fine motor skills, reaction time, muscular power, muscular endurance, and problem-solving skills.
4. May strengthen your heart
Low sleep quality and duration may increase your risk of developing heart disease. One analysis of 19 studies found that sleeping fewer than 7 hours per day resulted in a 13% increased risk of death from heart disease. Another analysis found that compared with 7 hours of sleep, each 1-hour decrease in sleep was associated with a 6% increased risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease. What’s more, short sleep appears to increase the risk of high blood pressure, especially in those with obstructive sleep apnea — a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep.
5. Affects sugar metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk
Short sleep is associated with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance — which is when your body cannot use the hormone insulin properly. In fact, an analysis of 36 studies in over 1 million participants found that very short sleep of fewer than 5 hours and short sleep of fewer than 6 hours increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 48% and 18%, respectively.
6. Poor sleep is linked to depression
Mental health concerns, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. One study in 2,672 participants found that those with anxiety and depression were more likely to report poorer sleep scores than those without anxiety and depression. In other studies, people with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report higher rates of depression than those without.
7. Supports a healthy immune system
Lack of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. In one study, participants who slept fewer than 5 hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to develop a cold compared to those who slept more than 7 hours. Those who slept 5–6 hours were 4.24 times more likely.
8. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation
Sleep disturbance is linked to higher levels of inflammation. Over time, this can increase your risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Affects emotions and social interactions
Sleep loss reduces your ability to regulate emotions and interact socially. When we’re tired, we have a harder time controlling emotional outbursts and our behaviors in front of others. Tiredness may also affect our ability to respond to humor and show empathy.
Though individual needs vary, most research suggests that you should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Just like you prioritize your diet and physical activity, it’s time to give sleep the attention it deserves.