New Data About the Importance of Sleep

When you have a large number of things constantly going on in your life, sometimes it’s hard to find downtime for yourself-even for simple but necessary things, like sleeping. But these actions are especially important during stressful times and equally important during non-stressful times.

Sometimes it feels like sleep is an option, and not a necessity, and that as long as you have some coffee and some motivation, you’ll be able to get through anything. But in reality, sleep helps you with much more than the rejuvenation of energy. Frankly, without enough sleep, a number of other things will start to be affected.

Concentration Levels

Although this may seem obvious, sleep is linked to the positive functioning of various aspects of brain activity. Whether it’s your ability to concentrate, your productivity and motivation levels, your cognitive capabilities, or just overall ability to focus or concentrate, sleep largely affects almost every important area of brain function that you employ in everyday activities and tasks. For those who fall behind on sleep, there are a number of studies that show notable decreases in people’s abilities to perform on a cognitive and productivity level.

So even though it’s common nowadays to think that less sleep means more time for productive activity, in actuality, the more sleep that you get, the more productive you’re able to be within the periods of time where you need to get work done. Exchanging a few more hours of sleep for a coffee or two will make a noticeable world of difference after a few days, and in the long term, will positively impact your brain!

Weight and Athletic Performance

Sleep is directly related to weight in a number of ways – those who are trying to lose weight through exercise and diet see increased results when they get a full night’s rest. Those who are trying to build muscle from exercising also see increased results when getting a full night’s rest. And for those who do not get enough sleep, it’s much easier to gain weight due to the hormonal impact that sleep has.

Sleeping directly affects your drive and willingness to exercise, meaning that it can impact both your weight and your ability to maintain it. In many cases, not getting a full night’s rest is directly correlated with cases of increased weight or even obesity.

In addition, similar to how sleep can affect one’s cognitive function, getting enough sleep is essential for those attempting to do frequent exercise or physical activity. Through sleeping, you’ll have better reaction capability and physical ability, leading to increase potential for exercise, which will ultimately result in better mental wellbeing. So in almost all regards, sleep will help you feel healthier both physically and mentally.

Overall Health

Not getting enough sleep not only contributes to a decrease in physical and mental capability but also can impact your overall health. There are a number of potential health risks that are increased in cases of those who are less frequently able to get a full night’s rest. Studies have shown that getting less sleep can directly affect your metabolism and contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes symptoms. This means that not getting enough sleep can negatively impact blood sugar levels and decrease your body’s ability to metabolize glucose.

Another large factor of your health that can be affected by low amounts of sleep is your immune system. In almost all regards, those who sleep for less than the recommended amount become more susceptible to illnesses and colds – meaning that sleeping can be the reason that you contract a cold, but also can be the reason that a cold stays around longer than expected.

In addition, the most potentially alarming effect is that low amounts of sleep can increase a person’s potential risk for more serious diseases and health issues, such as strokes and even heart disease. Although it’s not a direct cause of these health issues, when combined with other potential factors, it can noticeably increase the potential for these issues to occur. This means that, in reality, getting a full night’s rest can make a world of difference even on a level of decreasing your potential for complicated and serious ailments.

Mental Health

Since sleep is related to different parts of cognitive function and overall brain activity, it’s easy to understand that it also can negatively affect your overall mental health. In the same way that it can decrease motivation and hormonal stability, it’s also frequently associated with different types of depression and/or depressive thoughts.

Although it’s not necessarily true that lower levels of sleep can lead to depression, it is true that people with sleeping disorders have a higher likelihood of experiencing depression. So this could mean that getting more consistent and stable amounts of sleep could contribute to a decrease in anxiety and depressive thoughts.

On a less immediate and serious level, getting less sleep can directly affect your ability to socialize. Being able to notice and respond to various social cues is an important part of social interaction. When you’re deprived of sleep, you’re unable to appropriately recognize and respond to these various forms of social information. Although it may not be noticeable and may simply feel like an off day, this lowered ability to socialize could begin to compound over time and lead to some personal social issues.

Overall, sleep is much more important than it feels, and can largely affect many more domains of your life than it may initially appear to. Your mental, physical, and overall health are largely dependent on consistent amounts of sleep that fully allow your body to recover or rejuvenate its faculties to whatever degree is necessary.

As long as you’re able to get a full night’s rest as often as possible and wake up at consistent times using a reliable alarm clock, you should feel the difference after a few days in almost every domain of your life – and the positive results are both short term and long term. Sleeping is one of the most important activities of the day, so make sure to give your body the rest it deserves so that you can get as much out of your day as you intend to.

Resources – Healthline, WebMD

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.