The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep for Overall Health

The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep for Overall Health

Sleep is a vital, yet often overlooked, component of overall health and wellness. Along with healthy eating and exercise, it is a foundational element that promotes longevity and a sense of wellbeing.

Insufficient sleep increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and early death.

Mental Health

A good night’s sleep can give you the energy to be a happier, more patient and healthier person at home, work and socially. It can also help you cope with any emotional stress and prevent the onset of mental health concerns.

Studies have found that getting enough sleep helps us maintain a healthy mood, avoid depression and anxiety and develop self-esteem. In addition, sleep may reduce the risk of chronic conditions like high blood pressure and migraines.

When we don’t get enough sleep, it can make it hard to concentrate and remember things. This is because a lack of sleep can cause the brain to produce chemicals that impair thinking and learning abilities.

People with certain mental health challenges can have an increased difficulty achieving and maintaining restful sleep. These include people with a condition like anxiety or bipolar disorder. Insomnia is a common symptom of depression and can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Getting enough sleep can improve both these symptoms and reduce the risk of suicide.

Heart Health

Sleep is restorative, and it helps your body repair and rebuild itself overnight. But if you consistently get too little sleep, it has negative downstream effects on your heart health, as well as mood and function. Poor sleep has also been linked to other unhealthy behaviors, such as a poor diet. Getting enough sleep can keep your blood pressure in check and lower your risks of diabetes and high cholesterol.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep increases your risk of developing coronary artery disease and heart attack. Sleep has even been added to the American Heart Association’s cardiovascular health checklist, Life’s Essential 8.

A good night’s sleep can help your heart by improving your metabolism, hormone balance and energy levels. This can help control other risk factors, such as hypertension and obesity, that can lead to or worsen cardiovascular problems, says Harneet Walia, MD, at the Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Florida.

Weight Management

The amount of sleep a person needs can vary, but it’s important to aim for 7 to 9 hours on a regular basis. This helps with brain performance, mood, and overall health. It also prevents excess weight gain, heart disease, and sickness.

If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may try to compensate for it by storing extra calories as fat. This happens because lack of sleep affects the hormones that control hunger and satiety, such as ghrelin and leptin. It’s also because people who are sleep deprived often eat more than they need to feel awake.

Getting the right amount of sleep is just as important as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. To get the most out of your sleep, establish a consistent routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. Turn off electronic devices, such as TVs and phones, and try not to drink too much caffeine or eat heavy meals close to bedtime.

Immune System

When you think of getting a good night’s sleep you might think about staying healthy or feeling great, but your immune system is also a big beneficiary. Sleep has been shown to improve the function of T helper cells, which are responsible for recognizing and fighting invading bacteria and viruses and that make up the adaptive arm of your immune system.

Studies have shown that sleeping enough boosts the production of cytokines, which are the small proteins that act as messengers to bring immune cells to the scene of the infection and to allow the different cells involved in the response to essentially ‘communicate’ with one another. Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair cytokine production, which is associated with increased vulnerability to infection and reduced immunocompetence.

Getting too little sleep over time can lead to many chronic (long-term) health problems. Sleep affects your heart and circulatory system, metabolism, respiratory and immune systems. It can also affect how well you learn and think, so it is important to get a high-quality night’s sleep every night.

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