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7 Reasons Why Getting Enough Sleep is Important
Getting enough sleep each night helps you have the energy you need to focus on your tasks throughout the day. While The National Sleep Foundation states that adults ages 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep at night, a survey found that 35.2% of adults reported that they slept less than 7 hours at night.1
Much of America is not getting the sleep that they need to live a healthy lifestyle, oftentimes because they don’t believe they need it or think they don’t have the time. However, sleep has a direct impact on your brain and your overall health.
Here are 7 reasons why getting enough of sleep is important, as well as some tips you can use to start getting more hours of sleep at night.
Sleep Promotes Learning and Memory
Sleep has been found to have a significant impact on the brain’s ability to learn and store memories. While this is still an area of study for many researchers, there are a few key links found between sleep and memory.
One way researchers believe sleep impacts memory is its influence on declarative memory, which controls your knowledge of facts and events. Examples of declarative memories include knowing who is the President of the United States or being able to recount what happened at dinner last Tuesday.
Declarative memories have been found to form during slow-wave sleep, a cycle where your brain processes new information. This cycle allows your brain to store the facts you’ve learned so you can retrieve them later.2
It is also hypothesized that rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep has an impact on your memory as well. A study published in Neuron found that adult-born neurons located in the hippocampus, which is the brain region associated with memory, are responsible for helping memories form during REM sleep. The researchers tested the memories of rats with a task and then looked at the brain’s adult-born neurons. They concluded that younger adult-born neurons played a role in memory consolidation during sleep.3
In order to improve your retention and learning, aim to get the right amount of sleep each night. Sleep can help you remember what you’ve learned, which will make you more efficient in your job or school.
Sleep Promotes Concentration & Focus
Not getting enough sleep can cause you to feel tired and unable to focus on the tasks you have to complete during the day. If you are sleep deprived, you might feel sluggish and have difficulty concentrating on work, school, or other obligations.
However, sleep deprivation has more of an impact on your brain’s ability to concentrate than making you feel tired. One study found that a lack of sleep influences our brain’s cells abilities to communicate with one another. The researchers looked at the brain’s ability to process information as it grows tired, and they found that the rate someone processed information aligned with how fast their brain cells moved.4
Furthermore, another study looked at interns in the medical field with extended work hours of 24 hours or more. They found that the workers scheduled to work more often made 35.9% serious medical errors, concluding that the workers who received a scheduled that promoted better sleep were more focused and alert during their shifts.5 This shows that there is a relationship between sleep and concentration, and having quality sleep can help improve work outcomes.
Having optimal energy to help you focus and concentrate is another reason why sleeping is important. Try to get enough of sleep so you can better focus on your obligations each day.
Sleep Impacts Reaction Times
The amount of sleep you receive at night has a direct impact on how you react to the world around you. When your brain is alert, it is better able to process information and send signals to help your body react to your surroundings. For example, if someone threw a ball at you, reaching up to catch it would be your reaction.
According to The Sleep Foundation, the human brain reacts to a physical stimulus in 160-190 milliseconds. However, reaction times to physical surroundings increase as “sleep debt” – the amount of missed sleep – increases.6
One study tested the reaction time of college basketball players at Stanford University. The basketball players who received more sleep had an improved free throwing percentage of 9% alongside 3-field goals improving by 9.2%.7
Getting enough sleep is important for tasks such as driving and exercising. Being alert can help you stay safe and ensure that you’re able to react to the world around you.
Sleep Strengthens Your Immunity
There is a strong correlation between getting enough of sleep and staying healthy. Sleep has been found to promote immunity because your body fights off illnesses at night, making you less likely to become sick.
One study followed people who were exposed to the cold virus and tracked the amount of sleep that each participant had. The researchers found that the participants with less than 7 hours of sleep at night were 2.94 times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those who received 8 hours of sleep. They concluded that those who had a good night’s sleep were better able to resist developing the cold.8
When you go to sleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines. Cytokines help promote sleep and are also created during the sleep cycle, and they can help fight off infection. A lack of sleep will result in reduced cytokines, which can make your body more susceptible to illnesses.9
Staying healthy and fighting off diseases is one reason why sleeping is important. Try to incorporate more sleep into your schedule to keep yourself healthy.
Sleep Promotes A Healthy Appetite
The amount you sleep can also have an impact on your appetite. The reason for this is when you sleep, your body produces the hormones leptin and ghrelin to regulate your appetite. Leptin is responsible for suppressing hunger to help your body conserve energy, while ghrelin makes you feel hungry and promotes fat production.10
A lack of sleep can throw these hormones off balance, causing you to have a bigger appetite and eat more during the day. One study found that the participants who had a lack of sleep had reduced 15.5% lower leptin levels and elevated 14.9% ghrelin ones.11
Research has found a correlation between sleep and your body maintaining its glucose levels. Getting the right amount of sleep can help your body regulate its sugar levels, making you less likely to crave sugar and carbs. Having regulated blood glucose levels can help prevent diseases such as diabetes.12
Sleep is important in regulating your body’s natural appetite cycle and blood sugar. Try sleeping 7-9 hours each night to promote a healthier well-being.
Sleep Controls Your Mood
When you don’t get enough of sleep, you might feel more irritable, agitated, and tired. Studies show that there are links between sleep and mood, and a good night’s sleep is more likely to help your brain process emotions.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania looked at the correlation between mood and sleep. The participants had 4.98 hours of sleep, and the researchers found that those who had less sleep were more likely to show signs of stress and exhaustion.13 They also found that by the end of the week, it would take two day’s worth of sleep for the participants to catch up on their mood.
One reason why sleep and mood are interconnected is because staying awake can cause the connection between the amygdala and the brain to waver. The amygdala can helps your body process negative emotions, but a lack of sleep will weaken its ability to regulate them. This can result in you feeling more stressed, angry, and irritated if you don’t get enough of sleep.14
Being able to control your feelings and process your mood throughout the day is one reason why sleeping is important.
Sleep Promotes a Healthy Heart
Another reason why sleep is important is it can help promote a healthy heart by regulating your blood pressure levels.
When you go to bed, your blood pressure levels will naturally decrease as you sleep, which is referred to as “nocturnal dipping.” It is normal for blood pressure to be lowered at night by 10-20% relative to daytime blood pressure.15 A study found that those with hypertension who lacked in sleep had a 5% reduction in normal nocturnal dipping.
However, a lack of sleep can keep your blood pressure levels higher for a longer period of time, which can put you at risk for heart attacks and strokes if it goes unregulated.16 A study that looked at 36 untreated hypertension patients also found that a lack of sleep increases blood pressure and heartrate in the morning.17
Sleeping at night allows your heart to naturally slow down and regulate blood flow, which will reduce your blood pressure. Try getting enough of sleep to promote a healthier heart at night, especially if you are susceptible to high blood pressure.
Simple Ways To Get More Sleep At Night
You can start getting more sleep today by making small changes to your daily routine. Here is a list of ideas you can use to start sleeping more at night:
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Our bodies naturally operate on a day-night cycle called the circadian rhythm. Planning a routine can help your body feel well rested as it will respond to a normalized sleep routine.18
- Turn off screens. Our brains naturally respond to blue light, which gives us a sense of alertness and helps our body regulate its sleep patterns. Your electronic devices such as your television, phone, computers, and tablets all utilize blue light. Try turning off electronic devices before bed or setting your screens to night shift to help your brain turn off before bedtime.19
- Don’t drink caffeine. If you’re looking to get more sleep at night, avoid foods and drinks that have caffeine in them. Caffeine can keep you up for extended periods of time and cause a disruption in your sleep cycle.
- Be comfortable. Sleeping uncomfortably will cause you to wake up throughout the night. Buy bedsheets for the season, find a comfortable mattress, and use pillows that are form-fitting for your head shape.
Saber Healthcare Encourages Healthy Sleeping Habits
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to ensuring that you’re productive and energized throughout the day. Start planning your good night’s sleep tonight!
Here at Saber Healthcare, our nursing team works to deliver quality care to our residents across over 120 communities. To learn more about Saber Healthcare and the care we provide, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Suni, Eric. Truong, Kimberly, ed. “Sleep Statistics.” Onecare Media, Sleep Foundation. Last Updated February 8th, 2021. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
- “Sleep, Learning, and Memory.” Harvard Medicine, Division of Sleep Medicine. Page last reviewed December 18th, 2007. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory
- University of Tsukuba. "Memory consolidation during REM sleep: Researchers identify neurons responsible for memory consolidation during REM sleep." ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 5 June 2020. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200605105359.htm
- University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences. "Blame tired brain cells for mental lapses after poor sleep: Study reveals sleep deprivation disrupts brain-cell communication." ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 6 November 2017. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106112312.htm
- Landrigan, Christopher P et al. “Effect of reducing interns' work hours on serious medical errors in intensive care units.” The New England journal of medicine vol. 351,18 (2004): 1838-48. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa041406. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15509817/
- Newsom, Rob. Singh, Abhinav. “Sleep Deprivation and Reaction Time.” Onecare Media, Sleep Foundation. Last Updated December 11th, 2020. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/sleep-deprivation-and-reaction-time
- Mah, Cheri D et al. “The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players.” Sleep vol. 34,7 943-50. 1 Jul. 2011, doi:10.5665/SLEEP.1132. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119836/
- Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Alper CM, Janicki-Deverts D, Turner RB. “Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold.” Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12;169(1):62-7. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.505. PMID: 19139325; PMCID: PMC2629403. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19139325/
- Olson, Eric J. “Lack of Sleep: Can it Make You Sick?” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Accessed November 28th, 2018. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
- Pacheco, Danielle. Singh, Abhinav, ed. “Lack of Sleep May Increase Calorie Consumption.” Onecare Media, Sleep Foundation. Last updated December 11th, 2020. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/lack-sleep-may-increase-calorie-consumption
- Taheri, Shahrad et al. “Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index.” PLoS medicine vol. 1,3 (2004): e62. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15602591/
- “How Does Sleep Affect Your Appetite?” Trapskin Enterprises, Sleep Sherpa. Last updated May 31st, 2020. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://sleepsherpa.com/how-does-sleep-affect-your-appetite/
- Dinges, D F et al. “Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4-5 hours per night.” Sleep vol. 20,4 (1997): 267-77. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9231952/
- Gordon, Amle M. Fagan, Abigail, ed. “Up All Night: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Mood.” Sussex Publishers, Psychology Today. August 15th, 2013. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-you-and-me/201308/all-night-the-effects-sleep-loss-mood
- Yano, Y., Kario, K. Nocturnal blood pressure and cardiovascular disease: a review of recent advances. Hypertens Res 35, 695–701 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/hr.2012.26. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/hr201226#citeas
- “How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page last reviewed January 4th, 2021. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/sleep.htm
- Lusardi, P et al. “Effects of insufficient sleep on blood pressure in hypertensive patients: a 24-h study.” American journal of hypertension vol. 12,1 Pt 1 (1999): 63-8. doi:10.1016/s0895-7061(98)00200-3. August 12th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10075386/
- “Tired? 6 Ways to Get More Rest at Night.” Saber Healthcare Group. November 22nd, 2020. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/get-better-sleep
- “How Blue Light Affects Your Sleep.” Saber Healthcare Group. March 18th, 2021. Accessed August 12th, 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/how-blue-light-affects-your-sleep