By: Lauren Silver
There’s nothing like the feeling of waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. We all yearn for that energized state of mind that has us ready to take on the day ahead with a smile, and the benefits of quality ZZZs go deeper than just waking up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
But how much sleep is the right amount to reap healthful benefits and make your body feel like you received a good night’s rest? The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for those ages 18 to 64 and seven to eight hours of sleep for people 64 years of age and older. The problem is, more than one-third of American adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Being well-rested isn’t only good for your day-to-day energy levels and mindset. There are plenty of long-term health benefits associated with a good night’s sleep.
- Control your weight and metabolism with sleep.
You may have heard that it's harder to lose weight when you have bad sleep habits. Well, a 2019 study found that on top of that, four nights of poor sleep can actually make you gain weight by changing the way the body stores fat. On the flip side, when you get a good night's rest, it helps your brain work more effectively. And that includes controlling cravings for chocolate and other foods. Sleep can surprisingly help you control your weight, making a good night’s rest important for anyone on a diet. Sleep also helps control metabolism, as a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that people who slept less than eight hours per night had an increased body mass index (BMI) that was proportional to decreased sleep. The study also found that increased appetite was associated with decreased sleep.
- Sleep can lead to improved memory.
Sleep strengthens your memory and helps you to learn better in both the short-term and long-term. In the short-term, sleep can help with concentration and recall. If you’re trying to learn something new, you’ll process the information better if you’re well-rested. For the long-term, researchers at MIT found that sleep is essential for that, too, due to the link between memory replay and memory consolidation–which occurs during sleep. “The sleeping brain must replay experiences like video clips before they are transformed from short-term into long-term memories," study author Susumu Tonegawa said during the study’s release.
- Consistent sleep can lead to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.
A 2019 study looking at data from nearly 2,000 people with cardiovascular disease found those with irregular sleep patterns were at an increased risk for a "cardiovascular event, including stroke, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease,” according to the American Heart Association. The study examined sleep consistency as those “with a bedtime that varied by more than 90 minutes had double the risk of a cardiovascular event” compared to people “who went to bed within the same 30-minute window each night.”
According to the CDC, "sleep problems" also lead to higher blood pressure and there’s no shortage of additional studies citing ties to poor sleep and heart conditions.
- Better sleep can result in increased athletic performance.
If you’re feeling energized after a restful night, take advantage of it by working out. A good night's rest has been found to lead to better coordination, more energy and increased speed and mental function, all of which will be center stage in a workout. Sleep also helps with muscle recovery, so be sure to follow up your workout with another good night's rest.
- Consistent sleep can increase life longevity.
Too little sleep can make you sick and can even lead to increased mortality. A study found that adults age 45 and older who slept less than six hours each night were 200 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke during their lifetime compared to study participants who received seven or eight hours of sleep each night. On top of that, a 2017 study out of Stockholm, Sweden found mortality was increased when daily sleep was short, or long for those under the age of 65. However, getting some extra sleep on the weekend only had no association with mortality–meaning if you want to catch up on some extra sleep on Saturday and Sunday, you should feel free to get a few extra hours in. The other takeaways here are avoiding all-nighters and aiming to consistently get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Sleep can attribute to decreased levels of inflammation in the body.
Inflammation such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver disorders and colon cancer have been linked to poor sleep habits. With that, sleep abnormalities have proven to play a cyclical effect with worsening symptoms of IBS, IBD, and GERD, according to a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. The study found the evaluation, discussion, and treatment of sleep abnormalities may play a key role in preventing and improving many gastrointestinal disorders. If you suffer from one of these diseases, getting a good night’s sleep is even more important.
- Sleep can boost your mood.
If you’ve ever woke up cranky and irritable after a bad night’s sleep, you know this is true! A good night’s sleep can stabilize your brain, boost your mental health and make you happier. Meanwhile, not getting enough sleep can make you sad, irritable, frustrated and stressed out. Additionally, a 2015 study found interruptions in sleep can lead to a reduction in a positive mood and poor sleep can lead to depression. If you want to boost your mood and take a step toward avoiding depression, aim to consistently get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Make Good Sleep a Priority
It will be easier to sleep through the night when you’re in a comfortable bed that you love. Purchasing a bed is an investment in your health, and a worthy one considering you go to sleep every night! In other words, it’s well worth looking to different types of mattresses and finally investing in that hotel-quality bedding you’ve been eyeing!