A quarter of adults in the United States don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, you’ll know how terrible you feel after too few hours of shuteye – groggy, headachy and irritable. It turns out that the long-term consequences of too few z’s go way beyond that, making sleep one of the most important things you can do to keep your body in tip-top shape. In this article, learn how getting enough sleep can lead to long life – and how not getting enough can lead to dire health consequences.
The Benefits of Sleep
Doctors don’t know exactly why we sleep, or how sleep helps to refresh the body, but it’s clear that catching enough shuteye has huge benefits when it comes to immediate concerns that make you look and feel younger, as well as overall longevity.
In the short term, getting enough sleep can help you learn more, and retain information better. The exact reason is unclear, but researchers believe that your brain essentially “practices” new skills while you sleep. For this reason, getting the proper amount of sleep can help ward off the forgetfulness that comes with aging. And in terms of your looks, sleep helps there, too. Your human growth hormone (HGH) levels are boosted when you’re asleep, which can help increase your metabolism and prevent wrinkles and sagging skin.
But that, ultimately, is the small stuff. The real benefits of sleep come from bettered abilities to fight infection, digest sugar, and maintain high levels of function in the endocrine, neurological, and metabolic systems.
The Consequences of Too Little Sleep
Not enough to convince you that you should budget in a little more time to get the right amount of sleep? You might want to consider these consequences of not getting enough sleep.
Looking at the short term, too little sleep can result in many quality of life issues. This ranges from stress on relationships to decreased performance at work to a higher risk of getting into a car accident, or injuring yourself on the job. It doesn’t do great things for your cognitive function, either: just one night of poor sleep can decrease your alertness during the day by a full 32%.