What Are the Benefits of Sleep?

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important. You wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on your day….

But is having a rested feeling in the morning the only reason we sleep?

That is the question I had in mind before diving into the vast and extensive world of sleep.

As a pediatrician, I see patients of all ages, from newborns to adolescents and one of the most common complaints/questions I get from my patients and their parents are those surrounding sleep.

Lack of adequate sleep is such a common problem and although we understand what a good night of sleep feels like, many of us are not as aware of the many other benefits we obtain from sleep.

If you’re interested in learning more about the vast benefits of adequate sleep and potential consequences of inadequate sleep, keep reading!

  Sleep and Weight Gain

  • Lack of sleep has been shown to be associated with increased hunger signals in the brain and decreased satiety (or full) signals

  • Studies have also shown decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (both of which are associated with obesity)

  Sleep and Cognitive Abilities

  • Lack of adequate sleep has been associated with decreased academic performance 

  • Children who do not get enough sleep have been observed to have more learning difficulties than those who report adequate sleep

  • Adults with insufficient sleep have more issues with memory and poor decision making

  Sleep and Mental Health

  • Studies show that people with insomnia are as much as 10x more likely to suffer from depression
  • Anxiety can lead to issues sleeping, which in turn can worsen a person’s anxiety 

  Sleep and the Immune System

Perhaps some of the most fascinating information I discovered was how sleep (or lack of sleep) can affect your immune system!

  • Many of the germ-fighting enzymes in your body really rev up while sleeping, especially in the setting of an infection….. this is likely why you tend to be so much sleepier when you are sick 

  • Studies have shown that people exposed to the common cold virus, were more likely to contract the virus if they had an inadequate amount of sleep, compared to those who did not

  Sleep and Skin

  • Insufficient sleep is linked to poor collagen formation which can lead to increased signs of aging (think wrinkles and sagging skin)

  • Skimping on your sleep at night can also leave your complexion dull and lifeless (taking away that natural glow) 

So as we can see, sleep is more powerful than many of us thought!

Not only does getting a good night’s sleep make us feel good and rested, but it also contributes to our overall health in many ways. 

Good sleep can lead to improved mental performance in our day to day lives.

Whether you’re a child that has to perform well at school, or an adult who needs to be in tip top mental shape while at the office, adequate sleep will help you reach your fullest potential. 

Not to mention the benefits of sleep on your mood, physical appearance and immune system. 

A nice strong cup of joe (although one of my favorite daily pick me ups) is no replacement for the many benefits of catching an adequate amount of ZZZs. 

In this fast-paced world where the mantra of work more, sleep less is becoming more and more widespread and accepted, it’s easy to see how many of us have found ourselves skimping on a good night’s rest.

ot to mention the ever so frustrating bouts of insomnia many of us suffer from (which we will get into a little more during later posts) making a good night’s sleep nearly impossible even with the discipline and desire to get a full night’s rest. 

But what if the answer (or at least part of the answer) to some of your most common medical, beauty and fitness queries was as simple as getting more sleep?

Well I think sleep is always part of the answer and it is my mission to help others discover this for themselves by equipping them with the knowledge and answers to some of their most common sleep problems (even those you didn’t even realize you had). 

As a physician, I prescribe medications almost everyday for a variety of simple and complicated medical conditions but I have found through my own experience as well as research that in some cases, the only Rx that may be needed is SLEEP!

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