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Why Sleep is Sometimes the Best Medicine

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Author

Cameron Kennerly

There are times when sleep is the best medicine.

For some reason, a good night’s sleep just has a way of setting everything right. Whether it’s problems that can’t be immediately solved, pains that won’t seem to let up, or emotions running on high, “sleeping on it” is often the correct answer.

In fact, sleep has positive effects on our mental state, as well as our physical.

A good night of sleep has saved many of us from sending that angry email or text.

A good night of sleep has spared us of grueling migraines or upset stomachs.

And a good night of sleep has given us the energy we needed to overcome the day’s frustrations and given us renewed energy to take on tomorrow.

Simply put, sleep is one of the simplest, most pleasurable, and healthiest things you can do.

Here’s why…

Sleep is Objectively Healthy for You

A woman lying in her bedIt should come as no surprise that sleeping is good for you.

For starters, you need to sleep in order to live. A human being can only go 264 hours (11 days) before they die or go insane. Heck, at 3-4 days without sleep, you’ll start to hallucinate.

So, right out of the gate, willing yourself to avoid sleeping isn’t an option. At some point, your brain will forcibly shut itself off.

Thankfully, your body knows it needs to incentivize sleep, as well. And that’s why sleep is the best medicine. 

Take a moment and rank these three biological necessities:

  • Food
  • Sex
  • Sleep

If you’re like us, “food” and “sex” are interchangeable but sleep is nearly ALWAYS at the top of the pyramid.

And that’s because sleeping is packed with benefits for the body and the mind; it’s also packed with health risks if you skimp on it.

For example, here’s what getting a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours) does for your body…

Keeps your heart healthy

Sleep works to reduce your blood pressure, helping prevent heart disease and stroke.

Reduces your cancer risk

Melatonin is produced before you sleep, it also works to prevent cancers from forming.

Reduces stress

Stress is a huge killer due to its effect on the heart and brain. Sleep is the best medicine because it plays a major role in decreasing your body’s overall physical and mental stress.

Reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response but it can also be just as taxing and harmful. Thankfully, sleep works to reduce your immune response to keep you healthy.

Improves your memory

Your brain needs time to process what it’s stored in its short-term memory. By giving it rest, you can improve your ability to learn and recall new information.

Helps you lose weight

The body produces hormones Leptid and Ghrelin while you sleep. These helpful hormones work to regulate appetite.

Reduces feelings of depression

Serotonin is the chief “happiness” hormone, and without it, we’re prone to depression. During sleep, the body works to produce and regulate serotonin levels to boost your mood for the next day.

Allows your body to repair itself

Whether it’s muscle repair after a long workout or a migraine or headache, the body uses sleep to produce helpful proteins that foster self-repair and recovery.

Now that we’ve convinced you about the importance of sleep, are you sure you’re getting enough?

What’s the Right Amount of Sleep?

A man covers his face with a pillowDespite some people claiming that they only need “4 hours of sleep” to function, most doctors and researchers advocate getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

However, this recommendation does depend on your age, with younger age groups typically requiring more sleep than their older counterparts.

Here’s a helpful list to refer to…

  • Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day (including naps).
  • Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps).
  • Babies need to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day (including naps).

Alright. So, you’ve resolved yourself to get more sleep but you’re having trouble. 

You aren’t alone.

In fact, 27% of Americans experience trouble sleeping.

And the culprit may be a number of reasons including…

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Pain
  • Certain health conditions, like heartburn or asthma
  • Some medicines
  • Caffeine (usually from coffee, tea, and soda)
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Untreated sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or insomnia

Though losing sleep may be common, here’s how to change the narrative.

How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits

A woman lying flat on a couchIf you really believe sleep is the best medicine, you’re going to have to take it seriously—this means prioritizing it.

  • An hour before you get ready to go to bed, turn off all the lights (including your phone)
  • Try to work out in the morning, not the night, let your body wind down instead of up
  • Give yourself a bedtime (go to bed at the same time consistently)
  • Go to sleep with the time of day (i.e. when it’s dark go to bed)
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet (no TV on or music)

Note: Also, do not eat before bed. It’s not good for your digestive health.

In truth, improving your sleep patterns isn’t as difficult as you may think. It just requires a few obvious solutions—set the right tone and commit to going to sleep.

It’ll get easier with time.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping is one the finest pleasures we have as humans. Not only do we need it for good health, but it feels good, making it its own reward at the end of a long day.

So, don’t skimp out on sleep if you want to remain healthy in mind and body.

Sweet dreams.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average American lifespan is 78 years old, 26 of which will be spent sleeping.

DID YOU KNOW?

It's recommended to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep for healthy bodily function.

 

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