As a primary care provider, it is important to stress the significance of sleep and how it affects our overall health. Sleep is an altered consciousness that allows our body and mind to regenerate. A lack of sleep can lead to numerous mental and physical health problems. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 ways sleep affects our health and why it's crucial to prioritize sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Boosts Immune System
One of the most important ways that sleep affects our health is by boosting our immune system. During sleep, our bodies produce cytokines, which are proteins that help fight off infections, inflammation and prevent cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. According to the CDC, Adequate sleep helps increase the production of these cytokines, which can strengthen our immune system and help us recover faster from illness.
Improves Mental Health
Sleep is a major part of maintaining great mental health. When we sleep, our brain goes through different stages to process the day's information and consolidate memories, especially during the REM cycle. Adequate sleep can help improve our mood, reduce stress, and increase our ability to focus and concentrate. On the contrary, a lack of sleep can lead to mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety.
Promotes Physical Health
Sleep plays a crucial role in promoting physical health. During sleep, our bodies are able to repair and restore damaged tissues and help regulate hormones, such as cortisol and insulin, which play a key role in regulating our metabolism. Inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and decreased physical performance.
Enhances Cognitive Function
Getting enough sleep plays a crucial role in enhancing cognitive function. During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates information learned during the day, leading to improved memory and cognitive performance. Poor sleep causes the neurons in our brains to struggle, leading to difficulty concentrating, poor work performance and even increases the risk for dementia.
A direct result of good cognitive function is our productivity levels. Even the best sleepers have had restless nights, so we all know the toll it takes on our productivity and energy levels. Not getting enough sleep affects our ability to focus, concentrate, and make decisions. The decrease of cognitive function caused by poor sleep causes us to easily make mistakes and makes our daily tasks difficult and exhausting.
Tips to improve sleep habits.
With distractions like our phones, television and work emails, it can be easy to avoid practice and fall into a routine that hinders our sleep.
Some steps that can help create a productive sleep schedule include:
- Sticking to a set bedtime
- Winding down with relaxation techniques, such as stretching, breathing techniques and meditation
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Daily physical activity/exercise
- Adding warm lights in your bedroom
- Stop screen time an hour before
Finding the routine that works right for you may take some time. If you can’t seem to find a routine that helps you sleep, reach out to your health care provider to discuss what options are best for you.