The importance of sleep among humans has to be emphasized especially now that people are getting less and less of it. With the busy schedules that each human being has, most of them sleep less than the required 7-8 hours every day. Sleep debt causes physical, emotional, and mental fatigue but the effects have a far greater impact and understanding this in more detail will allow you to cognitively improve your efforts to sleep well.
Lack of sleep causes an individual to be impatient, irritable, moody and unable to concentrate. Sleep affects your general attractiveness so if you’re single, not getting enough sleep is impacting your chances of attracting a mate. Because the body lacks sleep, a person becomes too tired to do things that he/she is tasked to do. Think about something you are passionate about. Understand that your lack of sleep and poor sleep related habits are impacting your pursuit of goals and passions. This means that if you are a guitarist for instance, your skills are not improving as well as they should. Your enjoyment of things that you derive joy from are also getting impacted by sleep deprivation. Maybe that new Netflix show you’re following didn’t absorb you as much as it should have because your brain was too fatigued to pick up the nuances of the show.
Lack of sleep affects the immune system of the body. A person with chronic sleep deprivation has less white blood cells count. White blood cells are the soldiers of the body which defends the body against foreign materials and infectious diseases but its disruption of this mechanism that leads to diseases like cancer.
The body also needs sleep in its growth. Young adults and children need deep sleep to grow. It is said that it is during deep sleep that the growth hormones are released. I’ve noticed that most elite athletes and body builders really place priority on getting solid sleep just for reasons like improved growth hormone production. There is increased production of cells and reduced breakdown of proteins when a person sleeps. Optimal social and emotional functioning are also maintained during waking hours because the parts of the brain in charge with controlling social and emotional interactions are given a chance to rest through deep sleep. I know clients who knocked themselves out in the gym everyday but struggled to keep the pounds off or build muscle. Once they corrected their sleep patterns however, everything started to fall into place and their markers improved at a rather shocking pace. Those were typical cases of incorrectly deprioritizing sleep over other things.
Just in case you still have not realized what you really are missing due to sleep deprivation, here is a varied list of things that sleep affects.
- Appetite stimulation:
An increased appetite is one of the items you can file under the benefits of sleep. Appetite is brought about by hormones known as leptin and ghrelin. Having a good sleep will ensure that there are enough leptin and ghrelin hormones in your body. These two hormones are responsible for increasing your appetite. If you have more of an appetite, then you will be eating more meals. Many people have combined techniques for intermittent fasting with good sleep and have literally rewired their appetite to be optimal.
- Stress Reduction:
This is second major highlight among the more obvious benefits of sleep; through better sleeping you can ensure that the levels of hormones responsible for stress are kept at acceptable standards. Lower stress levels from a regular sleep pattern i.e. devoid of bedtime procrastination is something that should be experienced to really get an appreciation for. Lowering stress through a regular sleep pattern kind of seems obvious but if you actually paid attention to your stress levels before and after correcting a sleep pattern, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised.
Sleep is the best way for you to recharge. So this is pretty much self-explanatory. If you miss out on sleep or lack sleep, then you lose essential energy which you need to carry on with the day’s chores and various activities.
Your energy levels and your capacity to function normally are associated with the amount of sleep you have received. Sleep lets your body rest and prepare sufficiently for the next day’s challenges. If you do not have enough sleep, then you will be running low on energy for the next day. If you did not get enough sleep, you do not just go through the day on low energy level and easily get tired. Working individuals have a tendency to complain about how their job does not allow them to be able to regularize their sleep patterns. I always ask someone suffering from chronic sleep deprivation due to their job to at least consider options for switching companies or industries to improve their work life balance. As drastic as it may sound the cost versus benefit ratio of good sleep versus a lower salary is actually stronger than you think.
- Strong immune system:
If you lack sleep or become sleep deprived, you will lack a strong immune system which has the ability of regrouping and fighting sicknesses better. Curiously some people think of the occasional cold as “not a big deal” or “part of life” but that kind of thinking is rather glib because when you think of the notional effects of a cold, caused by a weakened immune system due to insufficient sleep, you realize that falling sick often is impacting you in your relationships, decision making and motivation. If a day trader could quantify the amount of money he lost due to impaired decision making from a messed up sleep pattern, I guarantee you that he would prioritize sleep far higher in his lifestyle. Try to find that quantifiable benefit from a regular sleep pattern in your own lifestyle and that will serve as a seed to germinate into a lifestyle featuring a more realistic and nurturing sleep schedule.
- Mental well-being (dealing with addiction?):
Depression and other mental issues can be experienced by people who do not get enough sleep. Missing sleep means losing your mental well-being. You will have decreased capacity in coping with anxiety, stress, and other issues. Do you have an addiction or a bad habit that you’re trying to give up? Unsurprisingly, sleep has a massive impact on willpower and motivation leading to a much more difficult addiction beating effort. If you’ve relapsed into a bad habit multiple times after quitting, try fixing your sleep instead of the habit to see if that might trigger an indirect fixing of your habit.
The ability to avoid Diabetes is another advantage that is vital among the benefits of sleep. Diabetes, especially, type 2 diabetes is associated with a lot of glucose in our body. Researchers have revealed that sleep affects the rate at which our body processes glucose. Reduced hours of sleep lead to slow processing of glucose in our body. This will subsequently lead to accumulation of more glucose in your body, which can lead to the development of diabetes. It has also been proved that people who sleep less than 5 hours a day have increased chances of getting diabetes but what you should factor in is pre-diabetes or diabetes like symptoms that can be caused from insufficient sleep. Diabetes like symptoms can include things like weight gain, poor muscular performance, eye problems, etc. We don’t have studies linking poor sleep to these issues but its logical to connect the effects of poor sleep to diabetes like issues.
- It helps you look better:
You can spend millions on skin creams and watch your diet, but you need your sleep for glowing skin. When you’re sleeping, the body goes into repair mode. It regenerates skin, blood, brain cells, as well as muscles. Are you single? Instead of Tinder, maybe you should focus on getting a good night’s sleep and benefit from the attractive, rested eyes that you will have.
- Increases concentration:
People who suffer from sleep deprivation are irritable and experience reduced concentration. You are more likely to make mistakes and have a slower reaction time. Many gamers procrastinate their sleep to play their games. But what’s interesting is that their hand-eye coordination and judgment would actually improve from a good nights sleep, thereby improving their gaming performance. If you’re a gamer, think about how when you do eventually sleep, you end up dreaming about the very game you were playing before. While you sleep, mental rehearsals happen, thereby increasing your odds of improving game play. Ironically most gamers are the worst offenders of a poor sleep schedule.
- Enhanced Memory:
The final point in list of the benefits of sleep is having an improved memory. Sleep deprivation may lead to a fuddled feeling that may make it hard for you to concentrate. This problem may be accompanied by memory issues. Having a good night’s sleep will not only ensure that you are safe from type 2 diabetes but also enhance your memory by organizing your brain and ensuring that your brain is properly functioning thereby facilitating your understanding and retention capability.
If there’s one thing that you should take away form this article it’s that if you are a chronic bedtime procrastinator, it’s time to really think about sleep and its effects on you. Project into the future how your life would be if you maintained your current trajectory for many years. Knowing the physical and mental effects of sleep deprivation and irregular sleep schedule, would you be fulfilled? Would you have that dream relationship? Would you have the money you desire?