10 Scientific Health Benefits of Sleep + Tips to Sleep Better

Today we’re going to talk about the importance of sleeping and the 10 scientific health benefits of sleep.  We’re also going to finish with some proven sleeping tips that will ensure you get a full night’s rest and make sure you get the right amount.

So we are all adjusting to living life in the fast lane these days, and sleep is often one of the first compromises that we make.

Whether you are a new mother, a college student, or a struggling entrepreneur, you’ve likely had many late nights or early mornings trying to get your endless to-do list accomplished.

We get it, and we’ve been there.  It’s okay to sacrifice a little sleep to get a project done.

What isn’t okay is making this a regular, long-term habit.

Your body needs a certain amount of sleep every night to function properly, and the compounding effect of sacrificing that time over many years can be detrimental to your health.

Sleep has an impact on every function of the body, including skin health, stress levels, and weight!

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Why Sleep Is So Important to Your Health

trouble sleeping

Let’s talk about the health benefits of sleep, aka WHY it’s important that you get the proper amount every night!

1. Not getting enough sleep is linked to weight gain.

Did you know that lack of sleep is one of the largest risk factors in obesity?

In a short study on sleep duration, researchers found that adults not getting enough sleep were 55% more likely to be obese. Worse than that, children were actually 89% more likely to obese when not getting enough sleep.

Lack of sleep’s association with fat accumulation seems to be for a number of factors, many of which are listed below.

2. Getting the right amount of sleep improves your hormones.

Cortisol, your stress hormone, is lowered with the right amount of sleep.  Elevated levels of this hormone over time is associated with poor skin quality, obesity, and a long list of other issues.

Better sleep has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and raise testosterone levels, which will give you more natural energy.

3. Good sleep improves your immune system.

Another health benefit of sleep is helping you fight off being sick.

In a recent study, they found that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3x more likely to develop a cold than those sleeping 8 hours or more.

4. Sleep helps to improve learning skills.

In a Swiss University study, two groups were introduced to a new language, one right before bed and one during the daytime.

The group that slept immediately after learning new material learned the language quicker than those learning in the day time.

So studying before bed seems to be a good idea!

5. Sleep lowers the risk of developing depression.

good night sleep for weight loss

In a study of twins, researchers found that shorter periods of sleep increased the genetic risk of developing depression.

In fact, it has been estimated that 90% of patients with depression also suffer from some form of sleep apnea.

6. People who get more sleep naturally eat less.

When you don’t get enough sleep, the fluctuations of hormones cause greater cravings and weaker appetite control.

So if you’re someone who’s trying to lose weight but just can’t stay away from the late-night snacks, getting more sleep is something that can probably help.

7. Sleep helps us empathize with others.

Another strange health benefit of sleep is a better understanding of social cues.

One study found that those who are sleep-deprived lose the ability to properly recognize expressions of anger and happiness in the faces of others.

8. Sleep improves athletic performance.

In a study of basketball players, a better night’s rest improved the reaction times, speed, and, the accuracy of the players.

In another study of over 2,800 women, lack of sleep made them more sluggish and made it difficult to perform tasks that required coordination.

Now that we’ve discussed the health benefits of sleep, let’s talk about how to get a better night’s rest.

5 Tips to Get Better Sleep

woman in bed, feet-first view

1. Use blackout curtains and duct tape to blackout your room.

Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, is raised when the sun goes down to indicate to our bodies that it’s time to rest.

The problem is that street lights, outlets, and all sorts of other unnatural lights confuse this hormone and trick it into thinking it’s still daytime.

Do a complete blackout of your room, and you will notice a BIG difference in both quality of sleep and ability to get to sleep.  Blackout curtains are the best way to accomplish this.

Also, computer screens and phone screens confuse melatonin as well.  There are nighttime modes on these devices, but it’s always best to just not use them 1 hour before bedtime.

2. Have a routine.

regulate sleep patterns for weight loss

Humans are habitual creatures and creating a systematic routine will improve sleep.

Something as simple as brushing your teeth, reading a book for 15 minutes, and immediately going to bed is a habit you can build to make your sleep almost automatic at night.

3. Use your bed for nothing but sleep and the occasional… physical activity.

This goes with the habit thing, but the moment you hit the bed, you want the body to recognize that it’s time to fall asleep.

Get in the habit of only using your bed for sleep and sex, and try not to work on your bed or spend any time on it when you’re not resting.

4. Use a pillow between or underneath your legs.

This will help to maintain the alignment of your back and improve your posture over time.  It will also help those of you suffering from lower back pain.

There is not a perfect way to sleep, but on your back is probably best as it helps to maintain the alignment of your neck and spine.

5. Nap more.

A short 20-30 minute nap lowers cortisol levels and is very healthy for the body.  So bring back a little bit of your childhood and do a quick cat nap if feeling tired midday!

Our last point is that the right amount of time for optimal sleep benefits is 7-9 hours per night.  No less than 7 and no more than 9 is the perfect amount!

But of course, getting adequate sleep isn’t the only piece you need for fast and effective weight loss.

Leave me a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the importance of sleep or have any questions!

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