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4 Amazing Benefits of Sleep You Never Knew About

Learn 4 unique ways sleep impacts your health and what steps you can take to get some quality shut-eye

Not getting enough sleep is awful, isn’t it? When you pull an all-nighter or stay up late bingeing your favorite show, you just don’t feel right the next day. You’re sluggish and loopy and downright cranky. 

And if you have consistent trouble falling or staying asleep, you know first-hand how much of a toll sleep deprivation takes on your physical, mental, and emotional health. 

It’s no secret that we all need quality rest to perform our best. But, most of the time, we brush sleep off as a normal part of our everyday routine and think it’s nothing special. 

Sleep, however, isn’t as insignificant as most of us have come to assume it is. While sleep is a time of rest, it isn’t a truly passive state. In fact, sleep stimulates profound functions in the body, and it’s a complex process that helps rejuvenate our bodies in interesting, unexpected ways. 

Today, we’ll take a look at 4 unique benefits of sleep and uncover how you can get good, quality shut-eye so you can take advantage of one of your body’s most powerful functions.

Sleep benefit #1: Sleep improves memory

Have you ever noticed when you’re sleep-deprived it’s harder to remember things throughout the day? While you might think that poor memory recall is just an odd side effect of being groggy, sleep deprivation is scientifically linked to memory deficits. 

Over more than a century of research has established that sleep is profoundly tied to memory retention. Because, when you’re asleep, your brain is working hard to organize and store memories. 

Newer scientific findings characterize sleep as a “brain state ideal for optimizing memory consolidation.” This is an important distinction from the awake state, where memories are actively formed and encoded.[1]

Think of it like this: when you’re awake, you’re making memories. When you’re asleep, your brain is filing them away for speedy retrieval later on. Getting more quality sleep gives your brain a chance to consolidate and organize the data you’ve encountered all day long.

Sleep benefit #2: Quality sleep can lower your blood pressure

When you hear the phrase high blood pressure, you might automatically associate it with a poor diet, lack of exercise, or being overweight. But, while high blood pressure is surely linked to those factors, it’s also influenced by sleep. 

In a recent study, researchers found that people who slept less than 4 hours per night were at significantly higher risk for hypertension when compared to those who slept 7 hours each night. Interestingly, the same study found that too much sleep can also contribute to high blood pressure. So, to be safe, aim to clock around 8 hours of sleep per night.[2] 
Another study found that people who slept 6 hours per night exhibited higher blood pressure metrics the next day when compared to those who had a long, restful night’s sleep.[3] This tells us that sleep is deeply tied to blood pressure and can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Sleep benefit #3: Sleep boosts your immune system

Another unique benefit of sleep is its ability to boost your immune system and help your body fight off invading pathogens. In fact, when it comes to your immune system, sleep plays a critical role—one that is often overlooked. 

Without enough sleep, your body actually produces fewer cytokines, which are proteins responsible for targeting infection and inflammation in your body and prompting an immune response. Cytokines are both made and released in your body during sleep stages.[4] 

Lack of sleep leaves the body weakened and makes your system more susceptible to a cold or viral infection, like the flu. [5]

To keep your immune system in tip-top shape this winter, be sure to get ample sleep. And if you lose out on a few hours here or there, try to sneak in a 30 minute nap to give your body extra time to rest and regenerate.

Sleep benefit #4: Sleep can help you maintain a healthy metabolism

We’ve known for some time now that sleep is intricately tied to the ways in which we store and use energy in our bodies. Sleep cycles nurture various hormonal and metabolic processes and they are essential to maintaining metabolic homeostasis.[6] 

Scientific research shows that sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, and circadian rhythm misalignment is linked to metabolic dysregulation. It has also been linked to hormonal imbalance.[7] 

Of course, getting good sleep alone won’t keep your metabolism in check. But it is a key component of a healthy and flexible metabolic system. And when you combine proper sleep with a high-fat, low-carb diet, intermittent fasting, and staying adequately hydrated, you’ll be primed for a healthy, flexible metabolic system.

How to get good, quality sleep

Getting truly restorative sleep means you want to focus on both the amount of sleep you’re getting each night and the quality of that sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is important. It allows you to reap the benefits of deep sleep. 

If you’re looking to improve your sleep habits (and who isn’t?), here are a few things I recommend:

  • Create a nighttime sleep routine. Don’t underestimate the power of a good routine. Even keeping to simple habits like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and then putting on your pajamas and climbing into bed will help you establish a better sleep rhythm. 
  • Ditch the screens. I know you’ve heard this one before, but it’s important. Blue light and EMFs from your cell phone and laptop screens disrupt your sleep pattern. To create a better sleep routine, leave your screens outside of the bedroom and read a book before bed instead. Also be sure to purchase Blublox glasses and a Safesleeve for you electronics to stay safe throughout the day. 
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day. Having a coffee or caffeinated drink late in the day can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night. Skip the afternoon latte and let your mind and body destress naturally instead. If you’re craving something warm, I recommend a caffeine-free Pique Tea blend. 
  • Use a fan or white noise machine. If you have trouble falling asleep at night or if you’re a light sleeper, try using a light fan or white noise machine. Many folks swear by a consistent humming noise to serve as a backdrop as they ease into sleep. 
  • Move during the day. Exercise, even a little bit of it, helps you easily fall asleep and stay asleep. Using your stored energy leaves your body craving rest and relaxation. If you stay cooped up in the house all day, you’ll find it harder to lay down and fall asleep come nighttime. 

If you have persistent difficulty sleeping or can’t seem to establish a sleep routine that works for you, contact your healthcare provider. A good sleep routine is essential to whole-body harmony and good health, and your healthcare professional can help you develop good sleep hygiene if these steps don’t seem to cut it for you.

For more simple tips to achieve long-lasting health, check out our previous article “Biohacking for Beginners: 5 Free and Easy Tips to Boost Your Energy and Support Whole-Body Health.”  READ >

*The advice and/or products on drnasha.com are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. Further, the information in this article is not intended to replace the recommendations of your healthcare provider or physician. Please review references cited at the end of the article for scientific support of any claims made.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/
  2. https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.7176
  3. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.hyp.27.6.1318
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
  5. https://rupress.org/jem/article/216/3/517/120367/G-s-coupled-receptor-signaling-and-sleep-regulate
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929498/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1991337/