If you have ever tossed and turned all night only to wake-up grouchy, you know that not getting enough sleep can have a serious impact on your mood and mental state. But you may not realize how big of an impact the amount of sleep you get has on your physical well-being. Sleep is as essential to our brains and bodies as good food, fresh air, and clean water. When we sacrifice it to make time for other things, we are not only signing up to be sleepy tomorrow, we are agreeing to a whole host of other problems without even realizing it. Here are some of the ways that sleep impacts our physical health, both positively and negatively.
There seems to be a link between some of the common aches and pains we feel and the amount of sleep we get. If you find yourself struggling with back pain or aching joints without any real explanation, think back on the amount of sleep you got for the last few nights. If you haven’t been overexerting yourself but you have been skipping sleep, you may be able to decrease the amount of pain you are feeling just by getting a good night sleep.
Although what happens while we are sleeping remains a mystery, research has shown that while we sleep, our brains are doing important work like sorting and storing new memories. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain cannot complete these critical functions which can impact your ability to learn and to retain new information. Additionally, lack of sleep slows our response times and impacts our cognitive ability which means one of the best things you can do for your brain is get some sleep.
Researchers have shown that chronic sleep deprivation impacts our metabolism and the way our bodies process different types of food. These changes can lead to weight gain. Hormonal shifts seen in sleep deprived people indicate that lack of sleep may increase the risk of obesity and developing diabetes. Unfortunately, people who are overweight are also prone to certain sleep disorders like sleep apnea and may struggle to get the sleep they need which only compounds problems with weight management. Whether you need to lose weight or if you are just working hard to maintain your weight, committing to getting enough sleep may be one of the most important steps you can take.
Your Immune System
Another way that lack of sleep impacts your physical health is by altering how your immune system functions. It is believed to change the immune system function enough that not getting enough sleep can increase the chances of developing a broad range of life-threatening diseases like cancer. Getting the sleep you need every night is as important to your health as remaining active and eating a healthy diet.
There is no question that lack of sleep has a significant effect on our safety. Slowed response times can make everything from walking to driving to working more dangerous. Nodding off at inappropriate times can also have serious consequences. One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from accidental injury is to get the sleep you need on a regular basis.
- Why Getting Enough Sleep is as Important as Eating Right (valleysleepcenter.com)
- To Nap or Not to Nap: That is the Question (valleysleepcenter.com)
- Is there a Link Between Lack of Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease? (valleysleepcenter.com)