The Power of Sleep: 8 Health Benefits of Drifting Off to Dreamland
The alarm is chirping. You roll over and hit snooze…again. You’re still tired. It seems like you just finally drifted off to sleep. And now it’s time to wake up. Sound familiar?
- How are your sleep habits?
- Do you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night?
- Or is your sleep tank perpetually running on empty?
FYI…most people don’t get enough sleep. In fact, 1 in 3 adults get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.1 But research shows 7 to 9 hours of sleep is ideal for best health.
Maybe staying up late to binge-watch your favorite shows, hang out, work more hours, or click-swipe-and-tap your way through social media isn’t the best idea.
You wake up tired. Then grab a cup of coffee (or two, or three…), get up, get going, and go to work. And keep repeating the routine like a groggy version of Groundhog’s Day.
Think you can skimp on sleep, get by, and do just fine?
Here’s the thing. If you want to be healthier, have more energy, and live longer, most people need to drift off to dreamland for 7 to 9 hours a night.
In fact, research shows adequate sleep has a powerful effect on your health in many different ways. Getting adequate sleep can help:
1. Lower the risk for obesity
Getting adequate sleep helps regulate hormones linked to hunger and cravings, improves metabolism, and regulates the body’s circadian rhythm for best health. When you skimp on sleep, you’re more likely to tip the scale in the wrong direction.2
2. Control blood pressure
How’s your blood pressure? If it’s 120/80 or higher, you have have elevated or high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. It’s a risk factor for heart disease. Lots of lifestyle factors affect blood pressure like your diet, exercise habits, and weight. Research shows getting adequate sleep can also help reduce stress and control blood pressure.3
3. Reduce the risk for diabetes
Getting adequate sleep helps improve insulin sensitivity. That’s important to help prevent diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Worried about getting enough sleep and diabetes? One recent study found that catching up on a few hours of sleep on a weekend or your days off can actually help lower blood sugar levels.4
4. Strengthen the immune system
Want to strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick? Research shows getting adequate sleep can help. One study found that if you get less than 5 hours of sleep per night, you’re 45 percent more likely to catch a cold. That drops to just 15 percent if you get 7 hours of sleep or more. Sleep helps the body develop antibodies to fight cold and flu viruses.5
5. Improve your diet
Want to change your diet, eat healthier, and tip the scale in the right direction? Get adequate sleep. One recent study found that people who sleep 7 to 9 hours a night, cook at home more often, order fewer fast food meals, and eat less processed and frozen meals.6 Researchers also found that adequate sleep helps control appetite and cravings at night.
6. Enhance brain function
You know that mid-afternoon funk when it feels like the only thing that will save you is a boost of caffeine and a candy bar? It doesn’t have to be that way. Try getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Research shows adequate sleep enhances memory, focus and creativity.7 Sleep also helps the brain regulate emotions, manage stress, improve reaction times and decision making, lowering the risk for accidents.
7. Reduce sick days
Ever feel like you can’t miss a day of work? Or you need to work to get paid? You need to be healthy to do that, and getting adequate sleep can help. When you don’t get enough sleep, research shows it has a compounding effect on missed days, decreased performance, and higher healthcare costs.8
8. Support positive behavior changes
Ever want to make a change to improve your health? You know…eat healthier, lose weight, drink less alcohol, quit smoking. Those are all positive changes. Here’s what’s interesting… the less sleep you get, the more likely you’ll feel the need to change. But when you’re sleep deprived, it’s a recipe for failure. Research shows adequate sleep helps improve your ability to develop healthy habits.9
So it’s getting late. You can either head to bed, or stay up late another night. What’s it gonna be? If you’re serious about tapping into the health benefits of sleep, you know what you need to do…turn the lights out and drift off to dreamland. Good night!
- Young, L., et al. (2016). Prevalence of healthy sleep durating among adults. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(6): 137-141. From: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6506a1.htm
- Ding, C., et al. (2018). Sleep and obesity. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, 27(1): 4-24. From: www.jomes.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.7570/jomes.2018.27.1.4
- Calhoun, D., et al. (2010). Sleep and hypertension. Chest, 138(2): 434-443. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913764/
- Killick, R., et al. (2015). Metabolic and hormonal effects of ‘catch‐up’ sleep in men with chronic, repetitive, lifestyle‐driven sleep restriction. Clinical Endocrinology, 83(4): 498-507. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4858168/
- Prather, A., et al. (2015). Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibilit to the common cold. Sleep, 38(9): 1353-1359. From: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26118561/
- Spaeth, A., et al. (2013). Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weigh gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. Sleep, 36(7): 981-990. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669080/
- Breus, M. (2020). Here’s how to support brain health with sleep. Psychology Today. From: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/202002/heres-how-support-brain-health-sleep
- Hui, S.A., et al. (2015). Trouble sleeping associated with lower work performance and greater healthcare costs: Longitudinal data from Kansas State Employee Wellness Program. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 57(10): 1031-1038. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610176/
- Grandner, M. (2018). The cost of sleep lost: Implications for health, performance, and the bottom line. American Journal of Health Promotion, 32(7): 1629-1634. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530553/
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