The Benefits Of A Full Night's Sleep On Your Immune System
Your body is an intricate machine with a variety of parts that function together. And like any machine, no matter how well engineered and maintained, it can't run 24/7. It needs to be turned off regularly, so the parts can cool down to prevent unusual wear and tear.
That's how sleep functions for the human body. It's a crucial need, without which our bodies start to break down even faster than natural. Except in our case sleep doesn't just prevent damage to the human body, it can actually help repair it.
What happens when you sleep?
When you go to bed at night, you're not just going unconscious right away. There's actually a complex process involved. You go through between four and five sleep cycles each night, each taking about 70 to 120 minutes. In turn, each of these cycles is made up of four sleep stages. These are either REM sleep (rapid eye movement), or non-REM sleep. As the name suggests REM sleep is when your eyes are constantly darting side to side as you dream, while the opposite is true for non-REM sleep.
Through each of these stages of sleep your body drops into different rest patterns, relaxing and activating different systems. This serves a purpose to properly reboot your body and mind and recharge you for the new day.
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Sleep helps fend off obesity
Studies have shown that when we don't get enough sleep, our bodies crave more carb-loaded meals the next day. This canlead to rapid weight gain, which could lead to other conditions like diabetes. It also negatively affects yourmotivation to exercise, which makes keeping that weight off even harder.
Sleep improves concentration and focus
A good night's sleep is crucial to being able to work at your most efficient. Without it you can't concentrate, and even when you do it's harder to process information. In fact, trying to work without sleep is about the same as trying to work while drunk.
Sleep can make you fitter
In a study on basketball players, scientists found that an adequate amount of sleep was responsible for their improved speeds, faster reactions times, and general mental wellbeing. Conversely, not enough sleep can make you physically weaker, making you walk slow and even less able to grip things.
It's especially important for children to get enough sleep. Aside from having a direct effect on their general happiness, sleep deprivation can adversely affect their cognitive functioning, learning, and memory, vocabulary acquisition, and their motor skill development, all of which are crucial for a growing child.
Sleep prevents heart disease
When you sleep, your heart rate slows down from its usual daytime resting pace. This allows it to take a breather of sorts as your body's metabolism slows down through the night. Without enough good sleep, you're at arisk of having a stroke and serious heart disease. Sleep deprivation also markedly increases your risk for developing elevated blood pressure and hypertension.
Sleep keeps you healthy
You might have already noticed at some point that you're better at fending off illnesses if you're well rested. The fact is, even losing a small bit of your required sleep can have a negative impact on your immunity. With a good night's rest your t-cell response is improved. These are a type of white blood cell that determine the action your body takes when exposed to an antigen.
Sleep helps prevent illness
When you sleep, your body produces cytokines, which are proteins that help regulate your immune system's response to antigens. Don't get enough sleep and your body has trouble forming immunological memory, which is what helps it adapt to a new illness, or even respond well to a vaccine.
Sleep affects your mood and mental health
When you don't sleep long enough or well enough, you already know you're probably going to be crabby the next morning. Scientists have found that a person can sleep well at night even if they've had a rough day, but not sleeping well will almost certainly result in you being in a terrible mood the next day. Additionally, sleep deprivation will do more than just make you cranky, it can also harm your mental state. It's been linked with various mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
As you can see, a lot can go wrong when you don't get enough sleep. So wind down for the day early, stop scrolling on your phone at night, and have a nice, relaxing cup of tea before bed. You're going to need all the rest you can get.
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