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  • Dr. Raisa Lerner

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, productivity, and safety.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. A good night’s sleep improves learning because when your brain rests it forms new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior.

Physical Health

Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way your immune system responds. Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.

Productivity and Safety

People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time and make more mistakes.

Drowsy drivers may feel capable of driving. Yet, studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk. Sleep deficiency can also affect people in other lines of work, including health care workers, pilots, students, lawyers, mechanics, and assembly line workers.

Quality of life

Sleep deficiency is not only harmful on a personal level but can affect overall quality of life. Sleep deprivation may reduce your social skills and ability to recognize people’s emotional expressions. Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.

If your body doesn’t get a chance to properly recharge you might find yourself feeling drowsy, irritable or sometimes depressed, struggling to take in new information at work, remembering things or making decisions, or craving more unhealthy foods, which could cause weight gain.

If you’re not sleeping well or aren’t feeling rested when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Ask if a sleep study is right for you.

References

  1. Morselli L et al. Role of sleep duration in the regulation of glucose metabolism and appetite. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010;24(5):687–702.

  2. 10 Reasons Why Good sleep is Important – Joe Leech

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