Sleep is one of the most important ways to achieve lasting health. We spend one third of our lives sleeping and for good reason. There are several benefits to getting good sleep which include heart health, improved mood and a better memory. So then why is it that 35% of Americans only get seven hours of sleep or less per night?
If only you knew how important sleep is to your personal, physical and mental wellbeing, would you try to get more? We’ve talked about why sleep is so important and how many hours are recommended based on your age. To review, here are some recommendations:
- Birth to 3 months: 14–17 hours
- 4 to 11 months: 12–16 hours
- 1 to 2 years: 11–14 hours
- 3 to 5 years: 10–13 hours
- 6 to 12 years: 9–12 hours
- 13 to 18 years: 8–10 hours
- 18 to 64 year: 7–9 hours
- 65+ years: 7–8 hours
We’ve also talked about good sleep hygiene habits which include:
- Turning off your devices two hours before bed
- Getting rid of ambient light
- Lowering the temperature in your room
- Getting better bed sheets
But there are even more serious health benefits of sleep that you may not be familiar with. If you’re looking to improve your mental health and physical wellness, read on to learn how some extra zzz’s can get you there.
Top Health Benefits of Sleep
1. Sleep Helps You Get Sick Less Often
Sleep has amazing immune-supporting benefits. While sleeping, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. The more cytokines you have, the more support your immune system has to ward off infections, inflammation and stress. When you sleep less, your body doesn’t make the amount of cytokines you need for good immunity.
When you prioritize sleep, your immune system is supported and therefore more able to fight off disease. One study at the University of California San Francisco found that those who slept fewer hours were more likely to catch a cold. Do yourself a favor and try to get a good night’s sleep tonight to give your immunity some much-needed TLC.
2. Sleep Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight
The connection between sleep and weight loss is interesting. When you’re sleep deprived, the hormones that control hunger are changed. This can cause you to start eating at odd hours, snacking more often, and perhaps not making the most nutritious food choices.
When you sleep enough hours at a regular schedule, it positively impacts your hormones and circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is your internal clock that regulates when you’re awake and asleep, and can impact your eating patterns and hunger levels.
A good night’s sleep can help your body’s natural clock stay on time and keep your physical health, eating habits and weight in harmony.
3. Sleep Helps You Make More Mindful Decisions
It may not be obvious how tired we are until we make a poor decision. Turns out the expression “let’s sleep on it” actually has some merit! One study from Washington State University found that no matter how hard a sleep-deprived person tried to make a mindful decision, a lack of sleep caused their brain to short circuit. Lack of sleep also affects your attention span and may delay your reaction time.
4. Sleep Can Improve Your Relationships With Others
A 2018 study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep helps people better empathize with others, meaning an increased ability to be present and sensitive to those around you. Quality sleep also helps you stay focused when engaging in conversation, and can reduce irritability or frustration during more spirited discussions. The ability to maintain relationships and have meaningful conversations with others is essential to your social wellness. Sleep helps you bring your best self to interpersonal relationships and improve the quality of them.
5. Sleep Can Promote Better Athletic Performance
Rest and recovery is a mantra in the athletic performance space. Most people who enjoy sports and exercise prize sleep for its positive effects on endurance, recovery and concentration. A 2017 research study showed that sleep is also associated with improved performance and competitive success in athletes, plus a reduced risk of injury and illness. It also indicated an increase in training participation. Needless to say, if you’re starting a workout routine and are struggling to keep up your practice, getting more sleep could help you reach your goals.
6. Sleep Can Help You Live Longer
Want to live a long, healthy life? Well, sleep can help with that, too. One publication suggests that sleeping five hours or less may increase mortality risk by up to 15%. A lack of sleep is also associated with cardiovascular issues, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Beyond regularly sleeping the correct amount of hours for your body, you should also focus on going to bed at the same general time every night. That way your body can get used to your sleep patterns and it will allow you to fall asleep faster.
Join HCI to Become a Certified Coach
Interested in learning more about how sleep affects wellness? Consider joining the Health Coach Institute for one of our many programs. Whether your focus is health and wellness or stress management, HCI has a program to help you kickstart your coaching career. Plus, if you’re a graduate of the entry-level coaching programs, you can take your business to the next level with the 12-month Coach Mastery course.