Sleep is often described as the most essential component of health, as any approach to health will fail if it is not supported by a healthy sleep regimen.
And yet, sleep is something we often neglect, preferring to party late into the night, or work on our computer past our bedtime. Some of us even peruse our social media platforms beneath the covers, which can take away precious hours from our sleep time.
The Top 5 Reasons You Need to Get Some Sleep
In this article, we will discuss the 5 most important health benefits of sleep. Sleep affects your entire life – and the enjoyment of that life.
So go ahead and get some rest – after this article.
A number of recent studies have been done that connect our risk for obesity with how much sleep we get each night.
Thus, our food is not assimilated and excreted as efficiently, which results in accumulation over time. This also leads to food being deposited as body fat.
Additionally, with less energy available, we are less likely to exercise to burn calories, which is crucial for maintaining a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Obesity, one of the leading epidemics in the US, affects almost a third of the adult population and is defined as having a BMI of over 30. It can lead to high blood pressure and strokes, as well as a number of other complications.
Thus, one of the many benefits of sleep is that it prevents obesity and premature death.
Whether you are an adult or child, creativity is necessary for daily existence. We utilize our creativity in school as well as in the workplace, and artists harness it directly when they are working.
Sleep helps consolidate our experiences from the day so that they can be integrated into our memory.
The primary part of the brain that regulates memory is the hippocampus. Memory is one of the most important elements of creativity, as we draw upon its repertoire of information when we creatively problem solve.
Sleep deprivation is so bad for creativity that is has been likened to consuming alcohol, as it has a similar blunting effect on consciousness.
The importance of sleep cannot be emphasized enough, as sleep boosts our cognitive performance and optimizes our creativity.
Many theories propose that when we sleep, our dreams work through unconscious material that we could not consciously process during the day. This is especially critical in our modern world where certain emotions are considered taboo for expression.
Thus, dreaming, and thereby sleep, provides an outlet for these emotions so that they do not get bottled up inside us.
Additionally, Jungian Psychology considers sleep health critical for our psyches quest for wholeness, which is facilitated by encountering certain symbols that are only available in dream states.
Without sufficient sleep, it is likely that we will feel incomplete, and our deepest potential will go unrealized.
If you exercise often, then sleep is critical for proper recovery. Whenever we rest after a workout, our body is building muscle, which is why we often feel so drained afterwards.
Furthermore, when we sleep well, we have sufficient energy to push ourselves during a workout, which allows us to strain our muscles and increase our endurance. Over time, this will make us stronger and healthier, which of course will only lead to better sleep.
Thus, a positive feedback loop develops in which exercise leads to better sleep and better sleep leads to better exercise. This is yet another reason to avoid the negative feedback loop that can result when we stop sleeping and exercising.
Pleasure and Joy
Why is sleep important? Simply, because it’s pleasurable. There’s nothing like snuggling beneath the covers during the depths of winter, laying your head down on a cloud-like pillow, and drifting into neverland.
While sleep is certainly a means to many things in life, it’s also an end in itself. There’s a reason why we spend a third of our life doing it.
But, the comfort is not the only important element. During REM sleep, we often experience rich dreams that can make us question our underlying theories about reality. Many people enjoy dreaming immensely as a mind-expanding activity, even conditioning themselves to lucid dream.
Thus, sleep is beneficial because it gives us adventure and pleasure, and the happier we are, the healthier we are.
Our Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Sleep
Sleep impacts all facets of life. The better we sleep, the better we feel when we are awake.
The mere fact that we feel tired is an indication that our body wants to sleep, as it is trying to signal us to close our eyes and rest. Instead of resisting this natural process, we should surrender.
Feature image via Wickenburg Community Hospital