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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

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Health Benefits of Sleep

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything”
Irish Proverb

Sleep is nice. You get to lie motionless in a warm, comfortable bed for a few uninterrupted hours of pure slumbering bliss before you wake up, feeling refreshed and renewed. You may be surprised to learn that, in addition to the recreational benefits of relaxation, there are at least ten health benefits of sleep.

10 Health Benefits of Sleep

1. Longevity

Research shows an association between sleep and longevity. The longer you sleep, the longer you are more likely to live.

2. Inflammation

Sleep deprivation can result in inflammation, which is associated with asthma, chronic peptic ulcers, tuberculosis and other serious conditions. While scientists are still working to determine if inflammation causes heart and blood vessel disease, according to the American Heart Association, inflammation is common in patients who have had a heart attack or stroke.

3. Heart Health

One study showed that getting six or fewer hours of sleep on most nights could gradually cause negative consequences for heart health, especially for women and in night or shift workers. Naps and extending the amount of sleep each night or day could help the body recover from these effects of sleep deprivation.

4. Improved athleticism

A study of athletes by Stanford University found that sleep is probably beneficial to reaching peak athletic performance.

5. Decreases pain

Sleep reduces pain sensitivity, according to a 2012 study published in Sleep. “Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures,” said the study’s principal investigator and lead author Timothy Roehrs, PhD. “We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine.”

6. Lowers the risk for injury

Sleep can have an indirect beneficial effect on health in that it can lower the risk for injury. One study presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that teen athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to sustain an injury compared with those who slept fewer hours.

7. Maintain a healthy weight

Inadequate sleep is associated with high body mass index, which is a height-to-weight measurement, but it also reduces leptin and elevates ghrelin.  Leptin decreases hunger and ghrelin increases hunger, so low leptin and high ghrelin levels associated with poor sleep leaves you feeling hungry all the time, no matter how much you eat.

8. Reduce stress

Sleep reduces stress. In a survey published by the American Psychological Association, 21 percent of adults said they felt more stressed when they did not get enough sleep. Of those with very high stress levels, 45 percent said they experienced more stress when they got inadequate sleep.

9. Sharpen thinking skills

Getting the proper amount of sleep can sharpen thinking skills so that you can make smart decisions about your health and welfare. Research results discussed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine showed that poor sleep could negatively affect a student’s grades. The research also showed that insufficient sleep could also increase the odds of emotional and behavioral disturbances in students.

10. Reduce depression

Sleep problems are associated with severe depressive illness, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and insomnia is quite common among patients with depression. Obstructive sleep apnea, which makes a person stop breathing for short periods as they sleep, is also associated with depression. Improving the length and quality of sleep can reduce depression.

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