The Significance of Sleep for Your Well-being

The Significance of Sleep for Your Well-being

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep can see us bouncing out of bed ready to tackle the day ahead with gusto. But the other side of the coin is far too common. Even one poor night of sleep can leave you feeling fatigued, low, and struggling to focus. But we put up with it, often because we don’t understand the significance of sleep for our well-being.

Society has been undervaluing sleep for decades, but the science is now telling us that adults who sleep a minimum of seven hours a night have stronger immune systems, better memory retention, better emotional regulation, less stress, healthier hearts, and better relationships, than those who don’t sleep that long.

 In order to start sleeping well, we need to start making sleep a priority, and the best way to do that is to understand how absolutely vital it is to our health and well-being. Here I’ll outline just eight of the health benefits of sleep, so maybe, just maybe, we can all start giving sleep the value it deserves.

The health benefits of sleep

1. It keeps your immune system strong

Sleep benefits your immune system; the part of your body responsible for fighting off germs and keeping bugs and viruses at bay. How? Well, sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders that your body might come in contact with, like the common cold virus. It also helps those cells remember the invaders, so if you come across the same bugs and viruses again, you’re prepared to fight them off. The healthier your immune system is, the less chance you have of getting sick in the first place.

And if you do get sick, you’ll notice you feel more tired than usual. That’s because sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair. You need to sleep more when you’re sick so you can heal. Listen to your body. It needs to do things it can’t do while you’re awake! It’s essential you allow yourself time to rest and recover when you’re not feeling well.

2. Sleep improves your focus and concentration

It’s no surprise that getting a good night’s sleep can help keep your energy levels up. But enough sleep can also stop your mind from wandering and helps you maintain your attention and focus throughout the day. Sure, but how is this part of sleep significant to your well-being, you may ask?

When you’re not sleeping well, it can mean that both your body and brain don’t function properly. This can affect your attention span, concentration, strategic thinking, assessment of risk, and your reaction times. All of these things are really important if you are driving, have a big decision to make, or are operating heavy machinery.

Simply put, sleep deprivation makes you more likely to make a mistake or have an accident, due to the factors above. And that can be pretty detrimental to well-being. Whereas getting plenty of sleep can help you to stay sharp and focused. I know which one I’d choose.

3. It keeps your heart healthy

Did you know that lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease  and stroke. When you sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure naturally drop, to give your heart the time to rest and recover.

Research has demonstrated that if you’re not sleeping well, then your sympathetic nervous system remains stimulated at night. The sympathetic system is responsible for the ‘fight-or-flight’ response – basically how your body reacts when it senses danger. This means that if you’re awake at night, your heart rate and blood pressure don’t go down, and your body releases stress hormones (cortisol) to continue keeping you alert. And, you guessed it, if your blood pressure is high at night, it’s much more likely to stay high during the day. Have you been missing sleep? How’s your blood pressure?

Not getting enough sleep can also lead to inflammation. This can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries, which can lead to coronary heart disease. Poor sleep can also disrupt your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Without enough sleep, the levels of sugar in your blood increase, which can cause diabetes. High blood pressure and diabetes are both major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The longer you go without quality sleep, the more alarming the consequences are for your heart and health.

4. Sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight

More research is needed to fully understand how sleep regulates weight, but research has shown that getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight.

A number of studies have investigated the link between sleep deprivation and obesity and have demonstrated that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain in a few different ways.

1. Lack of sleep can increase hunger by altering the hormones that control both hunger and satiety. 2.  People who sleep less each night may eat more than people who get a full night’s sleep simply because they are awake longer. 3. Sleep deprivation can be linked to a less healthy diet; likely leading back to poor decision making and the lack of motivation associated with being tired. Not to mention (number 4.) that sleep deprivation can lead to decreasing physical activity. We’ve likely all experienced that one. People who don’t get enough sleep are more tired during the day, and as a result don’t do as much physical activity.

5. It helps you learn and make memories

Not only does sleep give your body the time it needs to rest, repair, rebuild and function correctly, it also supports your brain power. As you sleep, your brain begins to sort and process the information you’ve taken in during the day. While you sleep, your brain is organising all that data; deciding what to keep and what to discard. It also converts your short-term memories into long-term memories. This helps consolidate learning. It also means that when you wake up, you can often see things more clearly. Have you ever been told to “sleep on it”? It works! Better sleep increases the brain’s problem-solving ability, and that’s significant for your mental well-being.

6. Yes, sleep affects your emotional and mental wellbeing

Not only is sleep important for your physical health, but there are psychological benefits of sleep too. Not getting enough sleep will increase your risk of developing poor mental health like anxiety and depression. And that can lead to further sleep issues.

You may find that if you’ve got a lot on your mind, or you are upset, anxious or worried – you lie awake at night going over things in your head. But then not being able to sleep only adds to your anxiety the following day. This leads to an even lower mood and can compound the issues. The good news is, improving your sleep can help to significantly improve your mental health and wellbeing.

7. Sleep can reduce stress levels

Stress is a big topic. What you find stressful and how you deal with stress will be different from other people. But the perception of stress (whether it be due to work, relationships, money, or health concerns, for example), is often a key factor when you’re wrestling with sleep issues.  When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases ‘stress hormones’, for example cortisol, which can keep you awake (it is our waking hormone after all).

In contrast, a good night’s sleep can have an ‘anti-stress’ effect. Enough good sleep will relax the systems in your body that are responsible for a stress response. Thus, easing all that worry and “stress”.

8. It helps you maintain good relationships

It’s no secret that a bad night’s sleep will leave you feeling grumpy, while getting enough good sleep will help put you in a positive mood. Chances are that whatever mood you’re in, it will be felt by the people around you. Let’s face it, we all prefer to be around someone who is happy. And it’s oh-so-common for sleep deprivation to drive a wedge between you and your partner.

But it’s not just about mood. The amount of sleep you get can affect your language, along with your reasoning and communication skills – all of these are key factors in building relationships. Getting enough sleep will help you regulate your emotions, interact well with others and maintain good interpersonal relationships.

When you have a bad night’s sleep, in contrast, it will make it more difficult to control your emotions and to communicate with others. And that is much more likely to lead to conflict, resulting in poor relationships. Both at home and at work.

There you have it, eight reasons that help outline the significance of sleep for your well-being. So, the next time you find yourself putting off going to bed by an hour or so, think about what you’re really giving up. What will that missing sleep do to your health and relationships? Your favourite Netflix series, however tantalizing, will still be there tomorrow.

When you understand the significance of sleep on your well-being, it’s much easier to value it, and give it the priority it deserves. And if you feel you could benefit from a personalised approach from a qualified sleep expert, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for a free initial call. You have absolutely nothing to lose with that call, and the change better sleep will make in your mood, energy, attitude and well-being is nothing short of extraordinary.

Are you ready? Book your , or a .

Sleep well,

Kim (your sleep fairy godmother)