In a busy world like ours where every minute counts, we often prioritize working, socializing, exercise, and even eating well before we even think about sleep. Some people even go as far to live by the mantra "I'll sleep when I'm dead." But figuring out why you should sleep more and following through with it is important for your physical, mental, and emotional well being. Though we may think we are pushing ourselves to the limit and accomplishing more in our day because we refuse to waste that time in bed, sleep affects more than just whether or not we are tired. From regulating our eating habits, to affecting our focus and memory, and even impacting our emotions, sleep is a necessary component of health that we often let fall by the wayside.
Even if you're super swamped juggling long hours during the day and can't imagine spending any more time in a deep slumber, just one hour extra of sleep can have a plethora of health benefits. "It's as simple as adjusting your schedule to go to bed an hour earlier every night,"says Board-Certified Sleep Medicine Physician Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day over email. "After a week or so your internal circadian clock will adjust."Turn off all electronic devices including the television 60 to 90 minutes before your new bedtime. Stick to it on weekends and days off."
Not sure an extra hour is worth it? Studies have shown that even just increasing your sleep from 6.5 hours per night to 7.5 hours per night can affect your stress levels as well as your risk for disease, according to Surrey University For a full list of support, I had Dr. Rosenberg break down the top five reasons why an extra hour of sleep each night can have a huge impact on your overall health.
1. It Can Help You Have Healthier Eating Habits
Studies from Berkeley have shown that lack of sleep can lead to junk food cravings, so sneaking in that extra hour of rest can help keep your body craving the right nutrients it needs. Not sleeping well can also lead to overeating, so getting that much needed shuteye can help you avoid eating more than your body needs. "Lack of sleep causes an appetite stimulating hormone called ghrelin to be produced in excess," Rosenberg tells me in an email.
2. It Boosts Your Immunity
You can load up on all the vitamin C and chicken soup you want, but if you aren't getting enough sleep at night, you are much more likely to get sick. "Several studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation inhibits our immune system. In fact antibody responses to vaccination are inhibited when we do not get enough sleep," says Rosenberg. Adults need about seven hours of sleep to keep their immune system up, so if you can get in an extra hour closer to that, you'll likely be calling in for less sick days.
3. Your Mood Will Improve
Sleep-deprived people tend to react more negatively to situations, and they also experience more anxiety. "This appears to be due to the fact that lack of sleep causes the emotion center of the brain called the amygdala to become hyperactive," says Rosenberg. Getting more sleep can not only help you feel more cheery in the moment, but it can also help lower your risk of depression.
4. You Can Increase Your Focus
"[If you get an extra hour of sleep] you will be more alert and better able to concentrate," says Rosenberg. A well-rested person can not only remember more things later on, but they're also better able to focus their attention optimally in the moment. Additionally, memories are solidified while you sleep, so if you aren't getting some rest, it can affect your ability to access these memories later — a major reason why all-nighters aren't that effective.
5. Your Skin Will Improve
"Chronic sleep deprivation actually causes inflammation and dehydration of the skin," says Rosenberg. Getting too little sleep can increase cortisol levels in your body, which can not only affect stress, but inflammation in the skin that can lead to acne or psoriasis.
6. It Will Make You Healthier In General
According to the American Psychology Association, "Psychologists and psychiatrists have been arguing for years that one of the most significant and overlooked public health problems in the U.S. is that many American adults are chronically sleep deprived." The APA stated too little sleep is often connected to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Imagine how you could drastically improve your life if you just made an effort to get a little more shut eye.
Sleeping is important, and the more we push it to the side, the more our health suffers. So take some extra time to rest and see what happens. It's amazing the difference an hour can make.