When trying to get healthy the first things most people tend to focus on are eating healthier and exercising more. These things are obviously important, but there are SO MANY other factors that affect our health and wellbeing besides the food that we eat and what workouts we do. These things include career happiness, spiritual wellbeing, hormones, stress and sleep. Sleep often gets pushed to the back burner, but getting enough shut-eye is actually one of the most important things we can do for our health!
Average adults typically need between 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night, but some people require up to 9. 6-7 hours or less is considered too little sleep. One night isn’t a big deal, but getting 6 hours or less for just one week can lead to serious issues.
I was born a sleep lover. My parents tell stories about me sleeping through the night almost immediately as a baby and literally almost jumping out of their arms to try to get in my crib each night. I’m also quite lucky because I can fall asleep almost anywhere. I’ve been known to snooze during movies, on planes, in the car, during lectures in college and even at parties and bars. <– I basically turn into a pumpkin past midnight.
On the flip side of things, I’ve found that my when my body doesn’t get enough rest it revolts. I’m lethargic and stressed, my eyes are puffy, I have trouble focusing and I want to eat all.the.things.
Lately I know I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Isaac tends to stay up much later than me and my bedtime has slowly gotten later because of it. Unfortunately I still wake up pretty early so my body isn’t getting the hours it requires. One of my goals this summer is to get more sleep, which means going to bed earlier AND spending less time looking at my phone before bed.
To motivate myself (and you if you’re in the same boat) I did a little research about the health benefits of sleep. I already knew that sleep was important but man, I was still shocked by some of the stuff I read. Are you ready for it?
Sleep makes you happier. A good night of sleep will help you wake up energized, cheerful and ready to take on the day however lack of sleep can lead to symptoms of depression, lower self-esteem and anxiety. <– Pretty crazy, right?
Sleep balances your hormones. While sleeping your body has time to release, rebalance, and replenish hormones. Adequate sleep improves insulin sensitivity, helps balance female hormones, reduces cortisol, and enhances the release of testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone.
Sleep boosts your immune system. Getting enough rest is critical for a healthy immune system. Research has proven that chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, colds the flu and even breast cancer.
Sleep increases your libido. Definitely not a bad thing considering there are additional health benefits of having sex as well.
Sleep makes you more attractive. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason! Lack of sleep causes dark circles, bags under your eyes and makes your skin look dull. When you get enough sleep your body has time to repair and replenish it’s cells — your whole body, including your skin, renews itself. Adequate sleep can help with acne, wrinkles, hair health and give you a healthy glow.
Sleep can help you lose weight.
- Children and adults that don’t get enough sleep tend to weigh more than those that get enough.
- Lack of sleep disrupts your hormones — specifically your hunger and fullness hormones (ghrelin and leptin). When you’re sleep deprived your body increases ghrelin production so you’re appetite increases. Leptin is decreased, which signals to your brain to eat more food so you’re likely to overeat as well. To top it off, lack of sleep also increases cortisol (the stress hormone) so your body is more likely to conserve energy and store fat. Not ideal!
- If you get enough sleep you’ll have more energy to exercise.
- An earlier bed time means you’re less likely to stay up and snack after dinner.
These points just touch the surface. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of sleep here are a few articles I found interesting.
- The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
- A Horrifying Picture of What Sleep Loss Will Do to You
- How Sleep Lose Adds to Weight Gain
- Is It Better to Sleep In or Work Out?
How many hours of sleep do you typically get each night? Do you notice a difference in how you feel and look when you don’t get enough zzz’s?