By Dr. Haris, Board-Certified Medical Practitioner
You might have heard this quote from Benjamin Franklin many a time, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. “ Similarly, there is another famous saying, “Sleep is the best medicine.”
Well, there is some truth in these quotes.
Sleep is deemed one of the main pillars of health. Good quality sleep is not only essential for overall body wellness; it also exerts a significant impact on cognition and work performance. It’s like hitting a restart button which allows your body to reboot making you feel recharged and fresh upon waking.
However, from trouble falling asleep to staying asleep, slumbering is an issue for many. The hectic work routine, excessive screen time, medical conditions and various day-to-day stressors can keep us from having the much-needed shut-eye. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of the adults living in the U.S. do not get the recommended amount of sleep each day.
Don’t worry if you are one of those. This article talks about some valuable tips by which you can improve your sleep hygiene. But let’s first talk about the importance of sleep in our lives.
Why Sleep is so important for us?
Having at least seven hours of good night’s sleep is essential for adults while children and teenagers need more of it.  The benefits are not just limited to the relaxing effects, sleep is a ‘multi-disciplinary’ phenomenon that somehow influences various processes going on in our bodies.
Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at the National Institute of Health (NIH), says;
“Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies. It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.”
You may already be familiar with some of the advantages of sleep, like it’s good for relieving stress, improves physical and mental performance, aids in the growth and development in children, etc. However, the benefits of sleep are far-reaching. Recent research has unveiled many remarkable effects of sleep on the body and mind. Some of these are described below;
Flushes out the Toxins
In a study conducted in mice, researchers discovered that during sleep, the space around the brain cells widens and the glymphatic system increases the flow of fluid through the brain clearing off some of the toxins associated with neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, that might have accumulated in our brain while we are awake. 
Reduces Caloric Intake
Yeah, it seems unrelated but a sound sleep also helps in lowering the caloric intake. In February 2022, a group of researchers from the University of Chicago Medicine conducted an experiment among individuals who sleep less than 6.5 hours at night. They found that increasing the sleep duration by 1.2 hours reduced the overall caloric intake of the subjects by an average of 270 kcal per day. 
Keeps the Body Weight in Check
Evidence can be found in the literature regarding the link between poor sleep and obesity. For instance, a study published in 2018 claimed that people who sleep less than 7 hours a day have higher BMIs and are more likely to develop obesity over the years than those who slumber more. 
Although the phenomenon is not completely understood yet, experts attribute it to the release of ghrelin (hunger hormone), inflammatory mediators and salt retention associated with sleep deprivation. Besides, the tiredness and fatigue due to the lack of sleep also negatively affect the person’s motivation to exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
Lower Risks of Health Problems
Getting adequate sleep each day also decreases the propensity of developing various health disorders. For instance, the CDC says that a good night’s sleep keeps the blood pressure and sugar levels in check. As a result, the risks of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes are lower as compared to those who have sleep problems.
Repair, Regenerate, Recover
Snoozing also helps our bodies to heal. When we sleep, the blood flow to the muscles is increased. The delivery of more oxygen and nutrients allows the tissues to recover and regenerate. Besides, our brain also releases growth hormones while we are sleeping which further aids in the repair and growth of new tissues.
Essential for Mental Health
Sleep and mental health have a bidirectional relationship. Mental problems can make it harder for you to slumber while, at the same time, poor sleep can lead to the development or worsening of mental health issues. For example, 75% of the people with depression also complain about having symptoms of insomnia.  Meanwhile, a 2016 meta-analysis has shown that insomnia can significantly increase the risks of depression. 
Besides, sleep also plays a vital role in improving cognition, memory, body performance, and immunity, as well as the normal functioning of body organs and organ systems. A healthy sleep routine is, therefore, essential for physical and mental well-being.
Sleeping Tips – A Roadmap to Sweet Dreams and Optimal Wellness
Here are some simple and valuable tips for improving sleep quality and developing good sleep hygiene;
- Make a bedtime routine. Try to fix a time for going to bed each night and wake up in the morning at the same time every day. Follow this routine on the weekends as well.
- Put down all the electronic and digital devices 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed giving your brain and eyes a chance to relax.
- Make yourself cozy. Your bedroom environment should be ideal for a good night sleep. It should be quiet and dark, and have a comfortable room temperature.
- Don’t eat large meals or have caffeine or alcohol before going to bed.
- Try to do some exercise or at least be physically active during the daytime. A tired body will help you fall asleep more quickly.
- Having a kip in the afternoon can be quite refreshing and helps you get going through the second half of the day. However, napping for longer periods can mess up your sleep routine making it difficult for you to fall asleep at night. It should be no longer than 15 to 30 minutes snooze.
- Spend some time outside in the daytime. The body’s natural circadian rhythm is somehow connected to the rising and setting of the sun. Getting some of its light in the day can help you sleep better at night.
- Do yoga or mindful meditation to cope with stress and control the jumbling thoughts which might be the reason for your sleeping problems.
Unlock the secrets of beauty sleep and its impact on your appearance! Dive in now to discover more.
Prioritizing sleep isn’t just a healthy lifestyle practice; it’s a fundamental investment in your overall health and well-being. From improving mental health to reducing the risks of various diseases, the benefits of having a good night sleep are extensive and far-reaching. By embracing healthy sleeping habits, one can achieve a healthier body, sharper mind and more vibrant life. Sweet dreams and wellness await those who prioritize the rest.
Other articles written by Dr. Haris:
- A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Forearm Crutches
- Attaining Wellness through Digital Detox
- Consensus Conference Panel, Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, Bliwise DL, Buxton OM, Buysse D, Dinges DF, Gangwisch J, Grandner MA, Kushida C. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015 Jun 15;11(6):591-2.
- Xie L, Kang H, Xu Q, Chen MJ, Liao Y, Thiyagarajan M, O’Donnell J, Christensen DJ, Nicholson C, Iliff JJ, Takano T. Sleep drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain. science. 2013 Oct 18;342(6156):373-7.
- Tasali E, Wroblewski K, Kahn E, Kilkus J, Schoeller DA. Effect of sleep extension on objectively assessed energy intake among adults with overweight in real-life settings: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA internal medicine. 2022 Apr 1;182(4):365-74
- Cooper CB, Neufeld EV, Dolezal BA, Martin JL. Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2018 Oct 1;4(1):e000392.
- Nutt D, Wilson S, Paterson L. Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience. 2022 Apr 1.
- Li L, Wu C, Gan Y, Qu X, Lu Z. Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC psychiatry. 2016 Dec;16(1):1-6.
Hello fitness enthusiasts! I am Dr. Haris, a dedicated certified medical practitioner, and a professional freelance medical writer with many years of experience in medical writing. My journey includes a noteworthy stint as a former house surgeon at Mayo Hospital Lahore, and now I am pursuing residency training in the field of cardiac surgery.
Being a doctor, I always find immense joy in sharing valuable insights, guiding individuals on the path to optimal health. I am proud to be a part of the Blufashion team, where I contribute by reviewing and writing articles related to everyday health and wellness. Our commitment is to empower Blufashion readers by disseminating accurate health information.
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