When people ask me “What are your top tips improve health?” my answer is simple: eat more greens and sleep better. Improving my clients’ sleep quality is one of my obsessions, because I firmly believe sleep is a key component of a healthy lifestyle.
You’ve probably heard that sleep is associated with better skin (so called “beauty sleep”)… but do you know all the benefits to regular, high quality sleep? Spoiler: You can sleep your way to a thinner body!
“Here are the top 10 health benefits of a good night’s sleep”
1. Live longer
Sleep allows your nervous system to switch from sympathetic mode (fly or fight) to parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). This switch is key so your body functions can work optimally and your body can properly restore and rejuvenate. People who sleep at least 7 hours per night, are expected to live longer as their body ages slower.
2. Lower stress, blood pressure and cholesterol
Linked to the above, sleep will definitely reduce levels of stress. This will give you better control of blood pressure. Additionally, research has proven that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.
3. Reduce inflammation
Research indicates that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. Why is this a problem? Because inflammation is linked to all sort of conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and many more. We need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system so we can reduce inflammation.
4. Lose weight
In my health coaching practice, I meet lots of people who struggle to lose weight. Their diet might be right, but lack of sleep is very often the reason. When you sleep well, you’re more likely to burn fat as a fuel… but when you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to burn muscle mass.
Also, lack of sleep affects the hormones that regulate appetite, both in terms of quality and quantity. When you’re sleep deprived, you feel hungrier and crave more junk/sweet foods.
5. Improve memory
During sleep, your mind “consolidates” what you’ve learned during the day: strengthening memories and integrating them deeper. So the saying “I need to sleep over it” comes from this notion of getting wiser while sleeping.
6. Stimulate creativity
In addition to consolidating memories, our brains reorganize and restructure them, strengthening the emotional components of a memory. This helps promote more creativity during the day.
7. Enhance performance
Whether you’re an athlete, a student or a doctor, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep. Numerous studies have found that longer sleep nights are linked to improved performance (including grades), less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
8. Sharpen focus and stay safe
Lack of sleep will affect your attention in different ways. Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. However, regardless of your age, a good night’s sleep will help you stay focused, sharp and calm.
Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making… which is directly related to low performance and accidents. Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
9. Boost your mental health
Lack of sleep can contribute to depression. A good night’s sleep is the best way to decrease anxiety and promote the surge of feel-good hormones.
10. Nurture your relationships
As shown above, lack of sleep can make you irritable and anxious. A good night’s sleep will promote calmness, happiness and balance… which will lead to a more loving, caring approach to others. Adequate sleep will help you express the best version of yourself, for you and for everyone around you.
Sleep is often ignored… yet it is a key component to our overall well-being. It will benefit your heart, weight, mind, performance and relationships. I encourage you to build a nurturing and relaxing bedtime routine so you can optimize your sleep and get all the benefits (read my post “Top Tips To Optimize Your Sleep”)
Want more? Read my post “5 Yoga Poses To Battle Insomnia”.
If you have questions or comments, find me at @soniaribascoach and we’ll chat.