Understand why do we sleep?
Sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Scientists do understand some of sleep's critical functions, and the reasons we need it for optimal health and wellbeing.
One of the vital roles of sleep is to help us solidify and consolidate memories. Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.
Now, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) found that Sleep is critical for brain detoxification. Your brain has a unique method of removing toxic waste through what's been dubbed the glymphatic system.
The clincher is that this system ramps up its activity during sleep, thereby allowing your brain to clear out toxins, including harmful proteins linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer's for example.
How Sleep Influences Your Physical Health
Interrupted or impaired sleep can:
- Increase your risk of heart disease.
- Harm your brain by halting new cell production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus.
- Impair your ability to lose excess pounds or maintain your ideal weight. This is likely the effect of altered metabolism, because when you're sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals satiety) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises.
- Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight.
- Accelerate tumor growth, primarily due to disrupted melatonin production. Melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggering cancer cell apoptosis (self destruction). The hormone also interferes with the new blood supply tumors require for their rapid growth (angiogenesis)
- Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high intensity interval training).
- Raise your blood pressure.
- Increase your risk of dying from any cause.
Furthermore, lack of sleep can further exacerbate chronic diseases such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Gastrointestinal tract disorders
- Kidney disease
- Behavioral problems in children
Top 10 health benefits of a good night's sleep
The following are the top 10 health benefits of a good night's sleep:
- Sleep keeps your heart healthy.
- Sleep may prevent cancer.
- Sleep reduces stress.
- Sleep reduces inflammation.
- Sleep bolsters your memory.
- Sleep can help you lose weight.
- Sleep makes you more alert.
- Naps makes you smarter.
- Sleep can reduce your risk of depression.
- Sleep helps the revitalizes the body.