While we might take it for granted, sleep is one of the most important things our body does to stay healthy. It can be good for your heart, mind, weight, and help us stay safe on the road. So perhaps hitting the snooze button and grabbing a few more hours of shut-eye can really help us to not only wake refreshed but lead to increased performance in many facet of our lives.
Inflammation has been linked to all sort of health issues from diabetes to heart disease, and of course, arteritis. Individuals who get six or fewer hours of sleep a night turn out to have higher inflammatory proteins in their blood levels. It was shown in an 2010 study that C-reactive proteins, a known factor in heart attack risk, increased in those who got six or less hours of slumber.
We’ve all felt groggy when driving those long stretches of highway after a late night out. But did you realize that a lack of sleep for just one night can impair your driving ability as much as drinking an alcoholic beverage? A 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report showed that being sleepy and tired was the number one reason behind most fatal single-crashes, This may be due the fact lack of sleep can detrimentally affect reaction times and lead to poor decision making,
In the journal Sleep, a study concluded the children who suffer from sleep apnea, snoring, or interrupted breathing during their sleep time have attention and learning problems. They wrote in the study that this could result in "significant functional impairment at school,". In another such study, university students were shown to get worse grades when they did not get enough sleep when compared to those who had a full, restful night.
Watching Your Weight
If you need to lose some weight or are thinking about going on a diet, you should also look at you sleep schedule. As sleep and body metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain, it is no wonder that the two are connected in our lives. A University of Chicago study showed that people who where on a diet and who got enough sleep lost more fat then those who did not get enough. Though they shed similar amounts of weight overall, the ones who had more sleep lost more fat in the study. The study also found that sleep deprived subjects were hungrier then their rested counterparts.
You may have realized that your mind is very active while you snooze. It turns out that using a process called consolidation, you actually bolster memories and skills that you learned when awake. So next time your trying to memorize that speech or learn a new language, just remember that you’ll do it better after good nights rest.
Eli Madrone is a health and science writer based in Portland, OR. He learned about the affects of sleep from a dentist in Grants Pass at Grants Pass Family Dental.