Getting enough sleep is important for your physical, mental and emotional health. With our increasingly hectic lifestyles, however, sleep is often sacrificed at the expense of everything else we need to fit into a 24-hour day. But doing this may be the worst thing you can do for your body, your mood and your ability to actually check things off your to-do list. Here are just a few reasons why it’s so important to get enough sleep.
How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart?
Sufficient sleep is important to keep your heart healthy. When you get too little sleep, it can increase your risk of heart disease, regardless of your age, weight or exercise habits. This is thought to be due to sleep’s impact on inflammation within the body and glucose metabolism. One study found that people who slept less than six hours per night had higher levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory protein associated with an increased heart attack risk.
Is Sleep Really That Good for Your Brain?
During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function. A good night’s sleep helps enhance learning and problem-solving skills, strengthens memories and gets your brain ready to tackle the coming day. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may have difficulty solving problems, making decisions or controlling your emotions. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley also found that people who consistently suffer from poor sleep had higher concentrations of beta-amyloid, a protein suspected of being a catalyst in Alzheimer’s disease.
Why Does Lack of Sleep Increase Your Risk of Diabetes?
Chronic sleep loss may increase the risk of diabetes, according to studies, by lowering insulin sensitivity and affecting hormones that regulate appetite, which can contribute to obesity. Being overweight is a leading risk factor for diabetes. Too little sleep has also been shown to decrease glucose tolerance and may triple the risk of developing impaired fasting glucose, in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal.
What’s the Connection between Sleep and Your Weight?
Two hormones play a major role in controlling your appetite – ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin affects feelings of hunger while leptin affects feelings of satiety. When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and leptin goes down, which can leave you feeling hungrier and may result in weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re also more likely to make poor food choices and eat more in an effort to energize your body.
How Does Sleep Affect Your Everyday Health?
Your immune system helps your body fight off infections and other illnesses. Insufficient sleep can negatively affect your immune system, leaving you more likely to get sick. Sleep also helps your body repair cells and tissues in the body, so when you don’t get enough sleep, healing may be negatively impacted.