It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep. Maybe it’s work stress, too much screen time, or something you haven’t quite figured out yet that keeps you up. Maybe you’re waking up after going to bed on time but you’re still not refreshed and ready for the day.

I know it’s hard to get, but sleep is important to preserving and improving our mental health and physical health. I’ll explain some of these important processes below, and be sure to check back soon for the tips on how to get that much-needed sleep.

Sleep keeps the doctor away

Sleep improves immunity. Consistently poor sleep is known to disrupt the immune system, leaving us more prone to common illnesses. The key here is consistency. One common mistake is to try to “catch up” on the weekends.
Deep sleep is essential for repairing wear and tear on the body. In fact, it is during deep sleep stages that human growth hormone is released into the body, aiding in the recovery of muscles and buildup of new muscles. Deep sleep is also the most refreshing portion of the sleep cycle because it reduces our body’s natural drive for sleep, ensuring you’re not sluggish throughout the day.

Good sleep builds memories

One of deep sleep’s most vital functions is the consolidation of new memories, in other words, it’s where memories are stored and organized for long-term access. So, if you’re studying for a big test, don’t stay up all night cramming because those crammed in memories won’t consolidate effectively – less is more when studying and sleeping well!

Sleep helps you avoid weight gain and diabetes

Getting enough deep sleep reduces the odds of developing diabetes. Missing out on deep sleep can lead to changes in the way the body manages glucose. We mainly dream during the REM state that follows the deep sleep stages, so if you’re having dreams you’re likely getting quality sleep.

Sleep can aid in weight loss. Research indicates those getting poor sleep are more prone to increased levels of ghrelin (stimulates hunger) and reduced levels of leptin (makes you feel full). Overeating and not feeling full is a recipe for gaining weight and being “hangry,” not to mention the other health issues that come with being overweight.

Less sleep problems means more intimacy

Behavioral problems can include a reduction in sexual activity. When people have sleep issues they develop routines to help fall asleep and one thing that can disturb that is a bed partner, so folks end up sleeping alone. Not surprisingly, sleeping in different rooms is not conducive to an active sex life. On top of that, a tired and tense person is likely to experience a reduced libido, even before they sleep in separate beds.

Good sleep wards off depression

A survey of those with depression and anxiety revealed that most slept less than 6 hours per night, falling short of the 8 hours most adults need. This finding suggests that proper sleep hygiene may be protective against common mental health issues.

Sleep isn’t simply “turning off” for the night. It’s a healing, active process that helps you function your best. Maybe you’re struggling to get to sleep – whether it’s from overworking yourself or even stress. I hope this reminder helps you refocus on how important it can be to slow down and get good rest.

The next step is mastering sleep hygiene: changing a few things every night to help you get the sleep you need. Check back soon for the tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene.

Matthew Russell, PsyD
Matthew Russell, PsyD

I help people with depression feel less weighed down, and more in control of their emotions, so they can feel relief.