70% of adults fail to get enough sleep but have you ever stopped to wonder why you need to sleep, anyway? The answer’s not as simple as it might sound. Yes, sleep deprivation makes you feel tired, which certainly isn’t pleasant. However, sleep doesn’t just exist to give you more energy throughout the day. The answer to the question ‘why is sleep important’ is far more wide-ranging and significant than that.
If you’re struggling to sleep, then understanding why it matters can provide crucial motivation to improve your habits. A good night of rest has a critical impact on your brain performance, physical health, and mood levels. This article breaks down these three components in detail, giving you the inspiration to find new ways to boost the quality of your sleep.
Maintaining Cognitive Performance
One of the most important benefits of sleep is improved mental performance. For a range of cognitive tasks, research reveals that sleep deprivation can have a detrimental effect. If you feel distracted at work, irritable in relationships, or slow in your decision-making, then getting a better night’s sleep can help.
Experiments suggest a simple and linear relationship between sleep and cognitive performance. The less you sleep, the more you’ll struggle with mental processing. The more you sleep - even sleeping beyond what feels natural - the more competent you’re likely to be at cognitive tasks. That’s not an excuse to sleep 20 hours a day, though, because oversleeping comes with its own drawbacks.
Memory is another essential function positively affected by good quality sleep. First, it allows you to concentrate during the day so you can take in more information. Second, your memories become consolidated while you sleep, moving from your short-term to your long-term memory. Having a good memory allows you to assess situations more accurately and arrive at better decisions.
Not only is your judgement impaired by sleep deprivation, but you’ll also struggle with processing complex information and using logical reasoning. If you’re looking to succeed in your career, and make better life choices, then sleep is essential. There’s no better way to achieve focus and alertness when you need it most.
Avoiding Serious Health Conditions
Sleep doesn’t just help you focus better, though. Its benefits go far beyond brain health, with a healthy sleep pattern helping to prevent some of the most serious and common health conditions. Sleep deficiencies that last for many years are linked to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and obesity.
Obesity is the key factor here because it can often lead to the other conditions mentioned. It seems somewhat confusing that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain. Surely, weight is a result of how much we eat and how much we move. This is true, but a lack of sleep can lead to overeating.
That’s because, during sleep, your production of the hormones leptin and ghrelin is regulated. When you don’t sleep enough, these hormones make you feel more hungry more often, causing you to eat more than your body needs. Of course, when you’re exhausted, you’ll also be less motivated to go to the gym.
This impacts your metabolism, but it also leads to an increase in your body’s cortisol production, the hormone that controls stress. Sleep deprivation makes you more stressed, which in turn raises your blood pressure and may lead to a stroke or heart condition. Sleep, then, isn’t just about cognitive performance but has a significant impact on your physical health, helping you avoid more serious medical conditions.
Naturally, if you’re performing at your best mentally while avoiding physical health conditions, you’re bound to be happier. You’ll be less stressed at work, more present in relationships, and better able to pursue your dreams and passions. However, sleep has a more direct effect on happiness than this. Every night you sleep well, you’ll wake up in a slightly better mood.
When surveyed, those who were sleep-deprived reported higher levels of anger, irritability, frustration, and sadness. Conversely - and predictably - those who achieved the right amount of sleep were more likely to report being calm, motivated, and happy. Once again, this is due to sleep’s impact on chemicals in the brain.
There is plenty of research revealing the link between mood disorders and insomnia. In fact, those with insomnia are five times more likely to experience depression than the well-rested. Sleep problems also lead to your risk of developing an anxiety disorder increasing 20 times.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is important. In fact, it’s crucial to living a healthy and happy life. With that in mind, you’re probably wondering how you can improve your sleep and enjoy all the benefits listed above. First, set a regular bedtime and then create your perfect sleeping environment. That means making sure your bedroom is only used for sleeping (or sex) and that it’s kept cool, dark, and quiet. If you achieve all these things, then you’ll have the best chance of falling asleep quickly.
If this isn’t enough and you’re still struggling with insomnia, then you can hack your sleep with supplements. Using a natural and healthy combination of ingredients like lemon balm, chamomile, saffron, vitamin D, and folic acid, you’ll help your body reach a state of calm so that it can rest more easily. Use a product like Neubria Drift for a tailor-made natural sleep aid.
Why is sleep important? Because enhancing your sleep is one of the best ways to rapidly boost your mental and physical wellbeing. Just one night of good rest will have an impact but try to consistently sleep well over the duration of your life. Sleep isn’t a waste of time where nothing is happening. Quite the opposite: when you sleep well, you’re maximising your brain’s potential, keeping serious health conditions at bay, and helping yourself to achieve a happier mood.