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The Importance of Sleep for Health and Longevity

Sleep – we can not live without it and why would we want to?! A part of how we achieve optimal health and longevity is through the prioritization of sleep. Sleep is an essential part of everyday life, and as humans, we spend about one-third of our time snoozing away in the comfort of our beds. Attaining adequate, quality sleep is as essential to survival as food and water. However, the fast pace of modern life can sometimes feel as though getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is a dream. 

Sleep is as important for good health as diet and exercise. Getting good sleep helps improve your brain performance, mood, and health. Without proper sleep, several vital functions of the body are negatively affected, including the body’s main control center, the brain. Furthermore, not getting enough quality sleep raises the risk of many diseases and disorders, ranging from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia.

There is more to good sleep than just the hours spent laying in bed. Healthy sleep can be described by three major things: 

  1. Amount - the number of hours of sleep you get at night

  2. Quality - the amount of uninterrupted and refreshing sleep you get at night

  3. Consistency - the regularity of your sleep schedule at night

Let’s talk more about sleep’s effect on various areas of our health. 

Brain Health

While we sleep, the brain and body are remarkably hard at work, forming new pathways and processing information that helps to improve memory and learning, increase attention and creativity, and aid in making important decisions. Sleep not only plays a major role in how nerve cells, neurons, communicate with each other, but also helps to remove toxins that our body accumulates through various environmental factors throughout our day.

Because sleep is so critical for proper mental function, it can be a strong determinant of productivity during the day. Therefore, those who lack adequate sleep, often take longer to finish tasks, are more likely to make mistakes, and have a slower reaction time. 

Prioritizing sleep not only benefits your overall brain health, but the ability to perform at your best, whether that is in work, school, training for  athletic competitions, or even being a good friend, mentor, or partner.

Physical Health 

Sleep is also essential for the maintenance of the physical health of the body. Adequate sleep allows for the body to properly heal and repair cells, such as those in the cardiovascular system. It also aids in the regulation of the endocrine system by maintaining the balance of hormones in the body, such as ghrelin and leptin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. 

When our body fluctuates in weight, this can often be a reflection of the factors of our lifestyle, such as sleep.  Thus, explaining the link between inadequate sleep and increased risk of obesity. Other hormones such as insulin, which is responsible for the regulation of glucose in the blood, also change and can result in an increase in blood sugar level when sleep is disrupted. For this reason, chronic sleep deficiency is also linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

Sleep also affects the growth and development process. Deep sleep (or REM sleep) triggers the release of growth-promoting hormones, which boost muscle mass and repair cells and tissues in the body.

The immune system also relies on sufficient quantity and quality of sleep. Therefore getting an adequate amount of quality sleep can aid in fighting infection and increased risk of getting sick.

Sleep should be a PRIORITY.

Everyone needs sleep. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in the body from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance. Studies have shown that a chronic lack of sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, increases the risk of disorders including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity.

Therefore, getting quality sleep can play a huge role in supporting overall health and longevity. Prioritize your health by getting a good night’s rest to live a long and happy life. 

  • Erika Richter


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