The benefits of sleep might seem pretty obvious. Clearly, when you sleep better, you feel more energized and ready to take on the day and when you don't get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep, you feel more irritable and aren't able to focus as well. But the real importance of getting a good night's sleep goes far deeper than that.
Getting the proper amount of sleep benefits your overall health, not just your mood. Doctors aren't sure of the specifics but there is a proven connection between lack of sleep and a greater susceptibility to many major illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. While we might not understand the why of this connection it is obvious that the more sleep you get, the stronger your immune system function will be, improving your ability to fight off disease.
Another one of the significant benefits of sleep is the reduction of pain. Studies have shown a connection between sleep loss and a lowered pain threshold. Simply put, the more sleep you get the more pain will be reduced. Unfortunately, this can be a double edged sword as pain can also make it difficult to sleep, but there are medications that can help to avoid this problem.
Of course, one of the most obvious sleep benefits is being more clear-headed, which can improve your ability to concentrate and may also help you to avoid injury. The Institute of Medicine tells us that one out of every five auto accidents in the U.S. is the result of drowsiness. People who don't sleep enough are more likely to doze off while driving or flying and they are also more likely to have household accidents, including tripping, falling, cutting themselves and burning themselves.
Along those same lines, one of the many benefits of sleep is an improved mental state. Not only will you feel better, you'll also be able to think more clearly and remember more. People often refer to sleeping as "recharging their batteries" and in the case of the brain, this is almost literally true. During the sleep cycle, the brain is actually working to consolidate your memories of that day. Without the proper amount of time to do this, memory can be impaired and cognition may also be affected.
Perhaps two of the more surprising sleep benefits are improving weight loss and improving your sex life. If you're not sleeping enough, you'll just feel too tired to do anything, including exercising or engaging in intercourse, but that's only part of the problem. There is also a direct physiological effect caused by lack of sleep that involves the production of certain hormones.
The hormone leptin regulates the feeling of fullness and when you don't get enough sleep your level of leptin can drop, causing you to feel hungry. At the same time, a lack of sleep in men can cause a drop in their level of testosterone, hampering their sex drive. So one of the more important benefits of sleep, then, is regulating these important hormones.
Any way you look at it, the importance of sleep cannot be overemphasized. Sleep is one of the basic necessities of life, similar to eating, and without it you'll be able to feel the difference. Your brain and your body will not be able to function at their best and that can affect almost every aspect of your life. So make sure you're giving your body everything it needs and don't skimp on your sleep!