One of the most common suggestions for recovering from many different kinds of illnesses or diseases includes having enough sleep or ample time of rest. According to Sleep Foundation, we spend about one-third of our lives asleep. Hence, our sleep patterns, number of sleeping hours, sometimes even sleeping positions, dreams while asleep, or overall state of our sleep matter.
Sleep is more than just shutting our eyes, and taking a break from the everyday mundane things. It is during our sleep that our bodies can recuperate from all the activities we did during the day; our body and our mind replenish when we are asleep. Hence, having a goodnight’s sleep is important.
The amount of sleep a person needs differs. Some of the factors that affect one’s amount of sleep include genes and sleep quality. One may need more time to sleep than others because that is what they were born with. Genetic makeup cannot be changed, yet it can be understood. One must take the time and pay attention to what his or her body needs. Quality of sleep also affects the amount of sleep one needs. One good night’s sleep can make one not need long hours of sleep; on the other hand, if one’s sleep quality is poor, it might make him or her need more hours.
The major factor for this difference is age. According to a study, people should be asleep between 7 to 17 hours. Newborns’ appropriate number of sleep is from 14 to 17 hours, 12 to 15 hours for infants, toddlers should sleep from 11 to 14 hours, preschoolers’ sleep should last from 10 to 13; As one age, the shorter number of hours of sleep one needs. School children need at least 9 to 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers should get between 8-10 hours, adults must sleep between 7 to 9 hours. Many believe that older adults, those who are about 65, can survive with just a few hours; however, in reality, older adults should still have between 7 and 8 hours.
Sleep, Weight Gain, and Weight Loss
Our body consists of different systems that all work together to achieve our healthier selves. Many studies say that sleep deprivation results in weight gain. When one lacks sleep, it affects one’s metabolism. The lack of sleep results in cravings; more often than not, people crave greasy and sweet food. The increase in intake of these types of food will surely result in weight gain or worse obesity. Whereas when you sleep for a good amount of hours and are of good quality, you are less likely to feel down; you won’t need mood-boosting food to lift you. Getting enough sleep will help you achieve or maintain your desired body weight.
There have been researches that state how the quality of sleep affects one’s weight and the occurrence of heart-related diseases. Sleeping for only a short period on a regular basis may increase the risk of obesity in both adults and children. When one is deprived of sleep, the poor appetite hormones go up; it results in higher levels of ghrelin, and lower levels of leptin. Ghrelin is the appetite stimulator hormone, while leptin is the opposite, it suppresses appetite. When you only get about five hours of sleep, you have higher chances of getting high blood pressure. And the increase in blood pressure is associated with heart disease. Hence, having a good night’s sleep, 8 to 9 hours if possible, is always recommended.
A good night’s sleep leads to healthier choices. When you don’t have enough sleep, your brain function is altered. This results in poorer food choices. Instead of healthier options like salads, lean meat, and fruits as snacks, you tend to go for easier cooked food to satisfy your hunger easily and fast. This also goes with control. The less sleep you have, the more chances you’ll say no to a second, third, or worse fourth serving of rice, cake, or any of your cravings.
Even with only a few days of losing or lacking sleep, the amount of insulin in the body changes. As a result, the sugar, fat, and starches that you gain from all the food you’ve eaten won’t be processed well. Instead of having these fats processed and entering your bloodstream, they end up being stored fat. Sleeping well will improve your metabolism, and will result in having less stored fat.
According to sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus, the body burns calories during sleep, which especially happens during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement). It is also during this stage when the body’s glucose metabolism rises, which also increases the rate of burning calories. It isn’t just about how long you sleep, but also how good the quality of sleep you get.
Other Benefits of Having a Good Sleep
Having a balanced diet and exercising are essential to having overall good health. But aside from these, sleep is also as important. Here are some of the benefits of sleep:
#1. Improved Concentration and Productivity
Sleep affects brain function; this includes how nerve cells work with each other. Having a good night’s sleep can improve one’s concentration, creativity, problem-solving skills, and productivity. Our brain is still active while we sleep; however, it is also during sleep when the brain can move in a more organized pattern. When one gets enough hours of sleep, the brain performs better. Hence, increasing one’s concentration during a class, a meeting, or just by having a random conversation with a family or friend. You are able to absorb and remember more information as compared to when you lack sleep.
#2. Good Skin
Not only will having a good sleep will improve your organs’ function, but it will also have an effect on your skin. Having pimples, breakouts, or acne is linked to having enough sleep. When one is sleep-deprived, the body produces more cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Having more cortisol increases inflammation in the body; hence, breakouts here and there, dark circles around the eyes, swollen eyes, and more wrinkles and fine lines. Aside from doing your three, five, or ten-step skincare routine, having enough sleep is a step ahead in achieving good skin. It is also suggested that one should already be asleep between 10 in the evening and 2 in the morning as this is the time when the skin recuperates.
#3. Happier Outlook
Sleeping well also affects one’s emotional state. When we don’t get enough sleep, we get easily irritated, and we can have mood swings out of the blue. When one is continuously deprived of sleep, it can lead to hallucinations. It can also trigger different psychological issues like anxiety, depression, paranoia, bipolar mood disorder, or worse suicidal thoughts. On the flip side, when we get a good night’s sleep, we tend to be happier and upbeat; patience may even seem to be a bit longer compared to when we don’t sleep well.
#4. Restores the Immune System
It is during sleep when the immune system produces antibodies and cytokines. These substances are the “fighters” that combat viruses and bacteria. A 2-week study about sleeping habits and one’s susceptibility to common colds was done; the participants’ sleep duration was monitored for 14 days and was given nasal drops that had rhinovirus. The result showed that out of 153 men and women aged between 21-55, participants that had less than seven hours of sleep were 2.94 times more likely to get cold compared to those that had eight hours of sleep. One is less likely to get sick when he or she gets a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.
#5. Better Energy
When we get enough sleep, our brain and body work well together. With increased concentration, our body is also able to work faster and better; hence, resulting in better energy to perform any physical tasks like exercising or just walking from point A to point B. In addition, a better concentration will help you to have better balance and lesser chances of slipping or tripping.
To achieve having a good night’s sleep, there are some things you can try: you must limit having daytime naps, avoid or lessen the intake of caffeine especially past noon, go to bed at the same time each night, doing meditation or relaxing activities like reading or taking a warm bath before bedtime, limiting the use of electronic devices a few hours before bedtime, and not having heavy meals a few hours before your sleeping time. If you still have trouble or difficulty in sleeping, even after trying different activities, best to consult a specialist to address your need.
Overall, one’s weight loss does not happen overnight, nor should it solely rely on having just the right amount and good quality of sleep. Having regular good night’s sleep does indeed wonders for our body, but it would be better if it would be coupled with a healthy diet and exercise.