While more research is needed to explore the links between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that proper sleep is very important if you want to be healthy and feel energized. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later. Those with sleep debt did worse.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to heart disease, hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Safety: Sleep loss contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may accidents and mistakes in judgement which can affect your safety.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep loss may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones (like cortisol) that affect our appetite.
- Disease: Chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and weight gain. Chronic sleep loss can also reduce immunity, altering immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cell. Keeping up with sleep may reduce your risk for several disease and conditions and also help fight cancer.