You already know that you're supposed to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, but have you ever considered the quality of that time? You can stay in bed for 12 hours and still wake up feeling exhausted if you have poor sleep quality.
Good sleep is about much more than just how long you spend in bed. Your sleep quality refers to the number of awakenings you experience each night, sleep disturbances and how smooth your sleep cycle is.
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Many people suffer from sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder. In order to improve your sleep quality, it's important to identify any sleep disturbances you have through sites like SleepKid and work with a doctor to treat them as soon as possible.
Improving your sleep quality can work wonders on your entire life, and these five benefits are just the beginning.
1. Improve Memory
Good sleep is imperative to good cognitive functioning. That's a fancy way of saying you'll think clearer and understand things better if you sleep well. During sleep, your brain interprets the events of the day and turns them into memories through a process known as consolidation. You'll have an easier time remembering things in better detail after a good rest.
2. Easier Weight Loss
Research shows that sleep is linked to obesity. The underlying science links sleep to hormones that regulate your appetite, including leptin and ghrelin. Poor sleep can lead to the imbalance or underproduction of these hormones, so you eat more than you have to and genuinely may not even feel full.
Sleep also has a strong effect on your metabolism, the process through which your body breaks down food and turns it into energy.
3. Reduce Stress
Sleep and stress are interconnected; too much stress can lead to poor sleep, while lack of good sleep can increase stress. Getting at least seven hours of quality sleep per night can drastically reduce your stress levels during the day, which in turn lowers your risk of many different stress-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.
4. Lower Your Risk of Depression
The physiological and biological factors of depressive disorders make them far more complex than we can summarize in this article, but suffice it to say that many lifestyle choices including sleep greatly affect your risk of depression.
In the most simplistic definition, depression can be described as feelings of hopelessness, sadness and disinterest caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. But scientists now know that depression is so much more than chemicals.
Sleep helps regulate our brain's natural hormones and ensures that the body's processes are carried out properly. One of the most important hormones that are regulated during sleep is serotonin.
Poor sleep can cause you to have less serotonin than normal, increasing your risk of depression. Although depression, anxiety, stress and other experiences can make it difficult to sleep well, it's vital that you prioritize sleep and see it as a fundamental aspect to your overall well-being.
5. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation occurs when the body responds to what it perceives to be a threat; at times, it can be helpful in fighting off illness and disease, but chronic inflammation increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Sleep helps regulate the body's inflammatory response, reducing the symptoms of painful diseases like arthritis while lowering the risk of other conditions.
If you suffer from frequent sleep disturbances, talk to your doctor. Trouble falling asleep or frequently waking up throughout the night can be linked to another problem such as a sleep disorder. Maintaining a regular schedule and practicing good sleep health habits can ensure that you always wake up restored and refreshed.
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