10 Surprising Benefits of Sleep

You just can’t do without sleep – it is a simple as that! And if you think sleep is overrated ask one Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist. Yes, he who spent eight days straight without sleep only to wake up covered in a pool of blood after smashing his face onto his recorder.

Never mind that we live in a fast-paced world where how you spend each minute counts. Be sure to take some time off to catch a nap every day. Doctors recommend that you sleep for at least seven to eight hours a day to stay healthy.

But that just a tip of the iceberg, here more benefits that come with sleeping.

1. Your Memory Improves

When you get enough sleep, you are by extension allowing your brain cells some time to recover. The mind becomes more consolidated as you sleep making it easy for you to remember things. The explanation behind this is that sleep allows you to access information engraved deep in your subconscious mind. That way, your brain can process more data as it tries to solve a problem than it would have if you were awake.

One study conducted by the University of California found out that it is the REM sleep that increases the brain’s power to work out solutions to problems.

Note – REM sleep is an active type of sleep where the brain remains in an active state. REM sleep boosts the brain’s problem-solving ability by a staggering 40%.

2. You Get to Live Longer

Sounds farfetched, right? Well, a 2010 study involving women aged between 50 and 79 established that more deaths occur in women who get less than five hours of sleep every night in comparison to those who sleep more than six hours of sleep a night.

Even though there is no clear reason as to why this is the case, it boils down to the sleep’s ability to affect the quality of life. It turns out, if you get adequate sleep, you’ll live a better and healthier life.

3. You Become an Excellent Sportsman

Sleep for the doctor’s recommended hours, and you could very well be on your way to improving your performance on the field. Research carried out by the Stanford University observed that college football players who slept for at least 10 hours every night had better sprint times. The stamina improved while daytime fatigue reduced.

The study further cemented the findings of a previous research involving swimmers and tennis players.

4. Your Risk of Heart Disease Reduces

Sleep reduces the intensity of inflammation. In essence, lower inflammation translates to a reduced risk of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, premature aging, and arthritis.

There’s evidence to show that people who sleep for less than six hours a night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in comparison to those who sleep for more hours. Plus, one study found that individuals who sleep for less than six hours are likely to have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a compound associated with a greater risk of heart attack.

5. You’ll Lose More Weight

Yes, sleep can help you shed off the extra pounds in weight. How? It lowers the levels of gremlin, a hunger hormone, which means that you’ll feel less hungry. Sleep also increases the levels of leptin, a signal that alerts the brain when you’re full. As a result, yo eat less and stay in shape. It also allows you to burn off more calories during the day.

6. You Become More Attractive

People are more likely to mingle with you if you have had enough sleep – because you’ll look more attractive! To substantiate this, Sweden-based researchers took two sets of photographs of 25 individuals. One set contained pictures of the participants after 8 hours of sleep while the other had photos after four hours of sleep. Forty people were later asked to comment on the photographs based on their levels of attractiveness.

Surprisingly, the photos with individuals with fewer hours of sleep were rated less attractive. Also, the group said it was likely to interact with the “beautiful” people who happened to have had more sleep.

7. You Become a Better Student

A study published in the Journal Sleep says that school going children aged between 10 and 16 with disorders such as irregular breathing, sleep apnea, and snoring are likely to have problems paying attention in class. The same observation was true in another study that involved college students. Those who didn’t get enough sleep recorded worse grades than those who had more hours of sleep.

So, if you want to improve your learning and scores, be sure to get enough sleep. You may sacrifice sleep once in a while to meet deadlines but don’t make it a habit.

8. Your Attention Improves

Lack of sleep is one of the primary symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. A 2009 study appearing in the journal Pediatrics suggests that kids aged between the ages of seven and eight who sleep for less than eight hours a night are likely to be impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive.

When your child starts to display irritability, it is imperative that you should check into their sleep pattern and see a doctor if necessary.

9. You Have Better Ability to Fight off Colds

Do you want to stay cold-free? Try sleeping for more than five hours every night! The results of a study published in the journal JAMA indicate that individuals who sleep for less than five hours are likely to be more susceptible to a cold.

This further vindicates the results of another study that intentionally gave a cold virus to subjects to determine who gets sick. In the end, it came to light that those who slept for fewer hours were at a higher risk of getting infected by 30% in comparison to those who slept for more than eight hours.

10. You’re at a Lower Risk of Migraines

A study carried out in North Korea identified sleep deprivation as one of the most common triggers of migraines. Mark you, all the participants in this particular study were migraine sufferers. A separate survey appearing in the journal Headache showed a decrease in the intensity of migraines in women when they get more sleep.

The Bottom Line

We cannot overemphasize the importance of sleep. At times, due to one reason or the other, you may not get enough sleep but be sure to make up for the deficit. After all, repeated studies show that lack of sleep is counterproductive. Besides, you want to perform better at mental tasks, don’t you?

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