Sleep heals. It is true. There are lots of health benefits associated with sleep – which is why – when we are deprived of the sleep we need, it can take major toll on your mind, body and overall health!
Research even shows that when you get enough sleep, it can actually protect you from illnesses. A lack of sleep is connected to ailments like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even colds and flu. When you do not sleep enough it also affects your mental health.
When you sleep, your body’s cells repair themselves. Sleep affects your immune system and hormones – and you can imagine what will happen if your immune system does not behave itself!
You already know that when we sleep well, our mood stays balanced and our learning and memory are improved. We feel more energetic and alert.
Let us look at five of the major health issues that can be minimized or avoided altogether when you get your seven to eight hours of sleep every night!
Colds and flu
Have you felt absolutely worn out when you haven’t slept enough? It also opens you up to more infections, since immunity is lowered. It weakens your immune system and your body does not respond as it is supposed to when you don’t sleep enough. This attracts colds, ’flus and other infections. Our response to vaccines also slows down due to lack of sleep, because it takes longer to produce the antibodies that are required to fight disease.
Not getting enough sleep results in chronic inflammation which in turn puts you at risk for heart attacks, strokes or diabetes.
Technically, when a person suffers from type 2 diabetes, the problem is resistence to insulin – where the body does not use insulin properly. Sleep deprivation makes it worse, because our body behaves as though it is diabetic showing insulin resistance. So for people in their late 20s or early 30s who sleep less than 6 hours per night, their insulin sensitivity could resemble that of someone who is about 60 years old.
Some of us feel proud about going without sleep regularly. Fact is – the brain gets lethargic, we become more short tempered. Somewhere down the line, work efficiency gets affected. This is because lack of sleep affects our memory, even though we think we’re doing okay.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you put on weight. If you are on a weight loss program and are not seeing results as quickly as you want, it is probably because you are not sleeping enough.
So – without going into many more technical reasons why you should sleep – all I want to say is – get enough sleep! And your body will take care of itself!