Sleep serves as a time to unwind after a long day of work, socializing, thinking, and moving. This 7-9 hour window is the chance your body and brain have to make repairs, retain information, and rest so that you can feel ready to take on the following day feeling fresh.
Despite the importance of sleep, an estimated 60% of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Sleep is an essential ingredient to good health, but how exactly does sleep affect different parts of your brain and body?
In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of sleep, how it impacts your physical and mental health, and finally, we’ll offer some tips to help you improve the duration and quality of your sleep. Read on for a full scope of the importance of sleep, or use the links below to navigate throughout the article.
After a long day’s worth of work, school, and managing other responsibilities, many of us look forward to getting a good night of sleep. Just like you eat when you feel hungry, you probably feel a physical impulse — sleepiness — that reminds you it’s time to get some rest. But why do we sleep?
Like many human habits, sleep is an evolutionary characteristic that helps us hone our physical and mental performance when we are awake. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, there are several theories that aim to explain why sleep is important to human health:
While researchers cite the importance of sleep differently, we know that sleep is an essential function to human health. Sleep allows your body and brain time to process and recoup from the day’s physical and mental stressors. As a result, quality sleep can help you:
Now that we’ve answered the question, “why do we need to sleep?”, let’s take a closer look at what happens when we don’t sleep or don’t get enough quality sleep.
One of the main reasons getting enough sleep is important is because of its effect on the brain. Sleep supports several key functions of the brain, including memory, problem-solving, creativity, emotional processing, and decision-making.
With poor sleep, your brain can suffer from a variety of short- and long-term effects:
Beyond cognitive changes, a lack of sleep can also impact your weight. Growth hormone deficiency and high levels of cortisol have both been related to obesity, and according to SleepFoundation.org, the two are now being connected to sleep deprivation. Additionally, the Sleep Foundation says inadequate sleep can also affect your dietary metabolism.
In addition to body and brain function, sleep has a big impact on our emotional wellness. Sleep issues can both be a symptom of depression and also contribute to the development of depression. In fact, sleep issues are so common in individuals with depression that a staggering 75% of patients with depression also report having experienced insomnia.
Your risk of heart disease and heart attack rises without adequate sleep, no matter your age, weight, or how much you exercise or smoke. At the same time, people with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure, or a history of stroke are more likely to sleep poorly, particularly because of sleep apnea.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of good quality sleep per night. Estimating the amount of sleep you’re getting is a relatively simple process — just keep track of what time you go to bed and what time you wake up. However, quantifying whether or not you’re getting good quality sleep isn’t always so easy to do.
Here are some common signs that may indicate that your sleep quality is poor:
If you’re experiencing persistent sleep problems, it can be a good idea to talk to your doctor about ways to find relief. In the next section, we’ll discuss some tips you can try in the meantime.
Throughout this post, we’ve discussed the physical and mental importance of sleep, but how can you improve the quality of your sleep? Let’s take a look.
From temperature to noisy neighbors, there’s a lot that can impact the quality of your sleep. When it comes to improving the quality of your rest, adjusting your sleep environment is a great first step to take.
Here are a few tips to help:
Creating a bedtime routine can help you get into rest mode and ultimately, improve the length and quality of your sleep. Winding down with a book, a few stretches, or some soothing music for 30 minutes can help you transition into bedtime. Unplugging from your cell phone, tablet, and laptop at least 30 minutes before bedtime can also be beneficial, as bluelight has been connected to lower natural melatonin production.
On top of the mental stressors that prohibit us from getting good sleep, there are plenty of physical challenges that can also get in the way. From an uncomfortable pillow that results in your arm falling asleep at night, to acid reflux flare ups when sleeping, our products can help you address several of these issues. Meet MedCline.
Our Shoulder Relief System helps reduce shoulder pain, arm numbness, and general discomfort you might feel when sleeping. The system’s qualities can allow it to act as an arthritis pillow, providing support and comfort where you need it most.
The key benefits of our Shoulder Relief System include:
Acid reflux is another symptom that can seriously disrupt your sleep cycle. We go into more detail on the relationship between acid reflux and sleep in our article, “How to Sleep With Acid Reflux and Heartburn.”
Our patented, FSA/HSA-approved Reflux Relief System eliminates acid reflux symptoms while you’re sleeping by gently elevating your torso and positioning your body on its left side. This physician-recommended sleeping position has helped 93% of MedCline users reduce nighttime heartburn, and in turn, get a better night’s sleep.
Our Reflux Relief System offers the following key benefits:
Bottom line: our bodies need sleep to sustain energy, body, and brain function. Use these tips to improve the quality of your sleep and your health in general. Check out our FAQ page to learn more about how MedCline products can help improve your quality of sleep.