10 Benefits of Sleep

By tallene
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Sleep Benefit #1: Improves Blood Circulation

Blood circulation transfers oxygen, minerals, and nutrients to every part of the body. In addition, maintaining proper circulation promotes organ function and cell growth. Common symptoms of poor blood flow throughout the body are tingling sensations or numbness in certain parts of the body, an irregular heartbeat, pain in the legs, muscle cramps, headaches, edema, dry skin, hair loss, dizziness, fatigue, and cold feet and hands.

Although the research cannot explain why, acute sleep loss and cardiovascular health go hand-in-hand. As a pattern of sleep deprivation forms, vascular health is compromised and can eventually result in the development of cardiovascular disease. On the same note, getting an adequate amount of sleep improves blood circulation.


Sleep Benefit #2: Appetite Regulation

It is well known that appetite is regulated by hormones leptin and ghrelin. In the brain, leptin – secreted by fat cells – signals fullness while ghrelin – secreted by the digestive system – signals hunger to stimulate the appetite. Together these hormones maintain the body’s weight.

Sleep deprivation causes leptin blood levels to drop reducing one’s ability to recognize being full. Additionally, ghrelin levels elevate for an increase in appetite. In other words, not getting enough sleep results in a hormonal imbalance which causes you to overeat.

Sleep Benefit #3: Improves Memory

Sleep plays a significant role in memory consolidation. When you sleep, your body is at rest, but your brain is busy processing the day’s events. During deep sleep, the brain is able to make better connections and link memories together based on what was learned during the day.

Chronic sleep deprivation prevents the neurons in the brain from firing optimally. Thereby, the brain has trouble receiving and learning new information as well as recalling previously learned information. Memory recall requires adequate sleep and rest.


Sleep Benefit #4: Increased Energy

While this may seem like an obvious benefit of sleep, the relationship between energy and sleep is quite interesting. During sleep, neuronal activity is reduced. Research suggests that as the neuronal activity goes down, there is a surge in ATP levels, which is the energy currency of brain cells.

Therefore, an important function of sleep is related to providing the brain with increased energy stores. After waking up, this energy is used to keep our bodies functioning and ready for whatever life has in store.

Sleep Benefit #5: Prevents Excessive Weight Gain

Since sleep has such a strong influence on ghrelin and leptin, it only makes sense to say that while sleep deprivation causes overeating, getting adequate amounts of sleep leads to weight maintenance with appetite regulation.

Therefore, plenty of sleep prevents excessive weight gain through the regulation and homeostasis of leptin and ghrelin.


Sleep Benefit #6: Prevent Impotence

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, is the inability for a male to sustain an erection. Some factors that contribute to this disorder include stress, illness, and poor blood circulation. Fortunately, sleep can help increase blood flow to the genital regions of men in addition to the rest of the body.

Quality sleep keeps testosterone levels up, prevents impotence, and ensures that you are not too exhausted for sex. Not getting enough sleep, on the other hand, is correlated with reduced testosterone levels.

Sleep Benefit #7: Promotes Healing

Protein is the macronutrient needed for building muscle mass as well as facilitating many chemical reactions in the body. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping, which increases tissue healing and regeneration.

These protein molecules form the building blocks of cells, allowing them to repair any damage from skin cells to muscle tissue and everything in between.


Sleep Benefit #8: Stress Relief

Stress is a normal part of life. It is a physical reaction to the environment around us, as well as our own thoughts. Stress causes your body to release a series of hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, etc. – to address the situation at hand.

Stress can be positive by keeping us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. However, stress becomes negative when a person continues to face stress without relief or relaxation between stressors. This is where sleep comes in. When you sleep, your body begins to relax, thereby normalizing hormone levels and relieving stress.

Sleep Benefit #9: Reduces Inflammation

Many chronic conditions are a result of inflammation in various parts of the body. Although there is a host of anti-inflammatory foods, simply getting enough sleep can help reduce some of the chronic inflammation.

Studies on the effects of sleep loss have shown that mediators of inflammation are influenced by sleep. As these mediators are elevated by sleep loss, shifts in basal inflammatory cytokines occur. Over time, sleep loss can lead to the future development of metabolic syndrome disease as a result of increased inflammation.

Sleep Benefit #10: Mood Regulation

Mood and sleep is one relationship that is easy to see every day. When you don’t sleep enough, it affects your mood and energy. Running low on sleep and it seems like the world is out to get you.

Sleep deprivation leads to increased irritability, anger, and hostility. When you sleep, your body normalizes hormone levels resulting in mood regulation, similar to the mechanism behind stress relief.


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