Why is Sleep So Important?
We have all heard about how important it is to get plenty of sleep on a regular basis. Unfortunately, for many of us it is hard to find time for all of our priorities, like work, family time, and (non-sleep) relaxation, as well as taking care of ourselves in other ways. Sometimes, sleep is the part of daily life that winds up getting shortchanged. No matter what else might be going on though, getting enough sleep is important for these parts of your health and your life.
Sleep is important for full mental functioning, both in being prepared to learn new information and skills the next day and in retaining what has already been learned. Sleep deficiency has been shown to affect higher-order functioning in the brain, such as problem-solving that can help you to adapt to situations positively.
Metabolism and circulation:
Sleep can help counteract the effects of stress on your body, helping to reduce blood pressure and stress hormones that by themselves can cause problems. It helps reduce inflammation, including within the cardiovascular system. It is also important for regulating the hormones related to appetite and digestion which can help improve insulin and glucose processing, as well as limiting junk food cravings.
Concentration and memory:
Lack of sleep can affect your basic functioning throughout the day, especially in situations like driving. Prolonged sleep deficits can lead to ‘micro-sleep’, which is falling asleep involuntarily for just a short amount of time. In general, it can make focusing more difficult.
Along with the cardiovascular system, sleep can help boost the proper functioning of your immune system, which is important in both preventing and recovering from disease. This is as true of serious illnesses like cancer as it is of common ailments like colds.
Along with intellectual functioning and concentration, sleep can help with mood regulation and in coping with problems— the improved problem-solving skills that come with rest can help keep frustration from building up as well. These two areas of mental function can feed off of each other, and being rested helps create support positive thinking and outcomes.
If you find that you are not getting enough sleep, it is more than worth your while to take a step back and figure out how to incorporate more quality sleep into your daily routine. Although you may ‘lose’ a little time you could be devoting to other things, the fact that you will be alert and more rested will more than make up for it.