Guest Blog: Three Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep

Sunday 1 April 2018

Sleep is brilliant. It truly is. Just stop for a moment and think about it.

It's completely free, you get to do it without leaving your home, you can do in the nude, it makes you feel good – and best of all it's great for your health.

What could be better than that, I ask you?

Yet for some reason so few of us do think about sleep. As a result we do it badly. Really badly. Sleep disorders are on the rise and it has been reported than 1 in 3 Americans are simply not getting enough.

Study after study has told us that sleep is great for both our physical and mental health. Below we take a brief look at exactly what some of the health benefits are of a good night's rest.

1. Sleep is good for the immune system

While we lay there dreaming of scoring a winning touchdown, our bodies are hard at work. As we rest many important processes get underway. When we sleep badly or don't get enough rest, these processes are interrupted. Constantly interrupting them on a nightly basis can have a big impact on our health.

One of these processes is the production of certain cytokines. These little fellas are essential for our health as they play a vital role in our immune system. They are the guys who fight off bacteria and viruses.

With an impaired immune system we quickly become susceptible to every cold and flu virus going around. And while a bad cough and runny nose aren’t likely to kill you, having a poorly functioning immune system opens the door for all manners of other more serious ailments.

The solution is simple, if you want to cut down on the amount of sick days you have to take this flu season – get more sleep. Oh, and get your flu shot.

For helpful and simple tips on exactly how to improve your sleep take a look at what those in the know have to say at the Sleep Advisor.

2. Sleep is good for the heart

Multiple studies have shown a link between poor sleep and an increased risk of heart disease. The exact mechanisms at play aren't fully understood but it's clear individuals who consistently get less than seven hours sleep a night are at a greater risk of cardiovascular problems.

Typically while we sleep our blood pressure falls and our heart has to do less work. If we’re spending more time awake our heart has more work to do and our bodies spend an increased amount time with higher pressure.

It isn't surprising then that research reveals that individuals who sleep for shorter periods at night are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension).

Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Peter C. Farrell, explains further the risk to our heart from poor sleep, stating:

"Sleep-deprived people have higher blood levels of stress hormones and substances that indicate inflammation, a key player in cardiovascular disease. Even a single night of insufficient sleep can perturb your system."

The bad news doesn't end there. It isn't just those who don't get enough sleep who are at the risk of heart problems. It also appears that individuals who sleep for too long are also at risk of developing heart disease.

Research has shown that people who regularly sleep for over nine hours a night develop dangerous levels of calcium buildup in their artery walls. Yikes, watch out sleepyheads!

3. Sleep is good for our mental health

It's not just our physical health that improves with a good night's sleep. A connection between mental health and sleep has long been known to medical science.

Once again the exact intricacies of why the two are connected is still being debated. What we do know however is that while we slumber the body attempts to regulate the levels of stress hormones and neurotransmitters in our system.

When this regulation is interrupted repeatedly night after night, it can result in imbalances. With imbalances can come an increased inability to control our emotions and thinking. This can cause or at the very least amplify the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

The link between sleep and mental health is such that insomniacs are reportedly up to five times more likely to suffer from depression than individuals who sleep well. Unsurprisingly there is also a link between insomnia and increased occurrences of death by suicide.

Sleep is good for you

Above are just three ways in which sleep helps us stay healthy, both mentally and physically. In reality the list of ways sleep is good for us is almost endless. Conversely, no condition known to medical science is made better by getting less sleep.

If you are to take anything away from this article let it be this – people who sleep less are more likely than their well-rested contemporaries to get sick and die, and die early. It may sound dramatic but it's true.

Hi all, I’m Sarah and I help run the Sleep Advisor. We’re motivated by a shared belief that we could have a happier, healthier and more stable society if we all sleep just a little better!

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.