It’s safe to say that most people look forward to a good night’s sleep at the end of each day, and why wouldn’t they? It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up feeling rested and ready to go. Yet beyond that feeling of rejuvenation, sleep is also responsible for repairing and recharging both our bodies and minds. Still, we do not always readily notice the other effects of sleep the same way we recognize feeling tired. As a result, some of us take sleep for granted - but critical functions take place in the body as we sleep that a cup of coffee in the morning simply cannot replace. Here are five major reasons why you need sleep:
Cognitive Function and Intellectual Wellness
A lack of sleep impairs everything from your concentration to your memory because your brain needs sleep for it to regenerate. If you have ever wondered why you were less productive at work or school following a night of poor sleep, it’s because a lack of sleep also impacts your performance and productivity, making you more likely to react more slowly, forget things, and make mistakes.
Because sleep impacts your cognitive function, it affects your ability to make decisions, problem-solve, and process new information. More sleep promotes optimal learning and even creativity, while a lack of sleep affects how quickly you can learn something and retain it.
Sleep deficiency is linked to mental health issues and disorders like depression because poor sleep can lead to problems controlling one’s emotions and behaviors. A lack of sleep alters the activity of neurotransmitters in your brain that regulate mood, contributing to moodiness, stress, anger, sadness, and anxiety. Anxiety levels are further impacted by the brain raising its anticipatory reactions due to insufficient sleep.
A hormone in your body called leptin lets you know when you are full. Meanwhile, the hormone ghrelin tells you when you are hungry. Sleep regulates both hunger hormones, and when you do not get adequate sleep, you experience a drop in leptin levels and a spike in your ghrelin levels - a combination that puts you at risk for gaining weight and obesity if your sleep and health do not improve.
Sleep also increases your hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, which are both associated with insulin resistance. Sleep impacts how your body reacts to insulin, which helps keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels regulated. When a lack of sleep disrupts this hormone regulation, your high blood sugar can also contribute to weight gain as well as an increased risk of diabetes.
A lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to everything from the common cold to chronic health problems. This is because poor sleep damages healthy living cells, putting you at risk for inflammation that causes diseases. Your blood pressure also decreases when you sleep, so not getting enough can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
General Safety & Wellbeing
As mentioned, how much and how well you sleep affects your cognitive function and decision-making abilities. Hence, people who get inadequate sleep are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and make poor decisions.
Allow sleep to be what gets you through each day blissfully and energetically, while coffee remains the cherry on top.
A lack of sleep can also cause someone to experience microsleep - an uncontrollable instance of sleep usually lasting under a minute. This can happen at any time, and it is one reason you should avoid driving while drowsy.
As you rest, your body remains diligently at work, and there are many reasons why sleep is critical to your overall health and wellbeing, both short and long term. Microsleep is just one of the many ways that your sleep can impact the lives of those around you, too. Now that you recognize the immense value of sleep, try not to take it for granted. Allow sleep to be what gets you through each day blissfully and energetically, while coffee remains the cherry on top.