How Sleep Impacts Your Health and Mood

A good night’s sleep can mean the difference between having a productive and energy-filled day and struggling to stay awake through the most mundane tasks. Studies show that humans need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night in order to reap all the benefits of sleep and to stave off the unhealthy side effects of not getting enough.

How Does Sleep Help Your Body?

When you sleep, your body heals itself. Your brain triggers the release of hormones that help repair tissues, build muscles, and heal wounds. This means that the intense workout you had at the gym will result in a stronger body in the morning. In addition, studies reveal that the levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline are lower when you sleep. Adrenaline prepares the body for a “fight or flight” response to stressful situations, causing a rise in heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating. Your sleeping body also produces less of the hormone that makes you feel hungry and more of the hormone that makes you feel full, which can result in a healthier body weight.

When you’re sleeping, your body also produces white blood cells used to fight off viruses and bacterial infections. Your immune system needs sleep to efficiently work to fight infections ranging from the common cold to more life-threatening viruses.

Getting a good night’s sleep helps you have a positive attitude the next day. You will feel more alert, have more energy and will be better equipped to handle difficult tasks.

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Sleep

1. Climate Control

When falling asleep, a few things happen in the body, one of them being a slight drop in body temperature. o It’s barely noticeable, but essential nonetheless. Lowering the room temperature by just 2 degrees, for example, can make it easier to do this. Did you know you can even get a cooling mattress? Sounds like a dream for hot Summer nights!

No Screen Time

I’m sure you hear it a lot but yes — it’s difficult to do these days, yet it’s probably the most important thing to try. It’s a matter of basic biology: during the day it’s important to expose ourselves to light because that’s what tells our bodies to stay awake. Likewise, at night, exposure to the dark dictates rather than the time to sleep.

Weighted Blanket

I’m sure you’ve heard of those. They are oddly comforting and soothing! For an adult, these blankets usually weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, and the principle is that being wrapped in this way (like when swaddling a baby) causes a very rapid relaxation response for the body, but also for the mind. In my case, it also calms my anxiety to some extent.

Limit Caffeine Intake

As a rule of thumb, if you are having trouble sleeping, you should have your last coffee no later than noon. But for some people, this is not enough. You can try different things: no caffeine after 10 a.m., having one less coffee during the day, having only one coffee and see if it changes anything, etc. This goes for energy drinks and cola!

How Lack Of Sleep Affects Your Body

Over time, lack of sleep can affect your health. Your blood pressure naturally decreases when you go to sleep. If your blood pressure remains elevated, you are at a greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. Sleep is crucial to preventing heart problems from occurring and in keeping existing problems from worsening.

Excessive sleep deprivation is associated with several negative consequences that affect your mental well-being. A sleepless night gets in the way of your mind taking a break from the day’s stress. You’ll wake up not feeling refreshed and may even feel grumpy and irritable. Studies show that people with insomnia and sleep apnea, during which a person wakes often during the night, are more likely to have symptoms of depression or anxiety.

A good night’s sleep is critical for your body to form new memories. While awake, your body is busy acquiring new information and having new experiences. While you’re asleep, your body is processing this new information so you can access it when you need it. When you don’t sleep, this process doesn’t occur, making it unlikely that you’ll be able to recall that answer you need for that history exam.

Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to chronic inflammation. When your circadian rhythm is disturbed and you’re getting little to no sleep, your body’s immune system is also affected. This can result in an inflammatory response to a nonexistent threat. With time, chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Even if you experience one night of sleeplessness, your body will have increased inflammation, so it’s important to get the right amount of quality sleep.

So if there’s anything you can do for your health right now, it’s making sure you catch enough sleep!