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Sleep is vital to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. While we sleep, our bodies undergo numerous physiological processes that help repair damage and prevent disease. Sleep is also what allows us to think clearly and have enough energy to perform productively.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get sufficient sleep. According to the CDC, nearly one-third of U.S. adults aren’t getting enough sleep, leading to serious health and economic consequences. Insufficient sleep results in significant losses in productivity for U.S. employers annually. Having an employee wellness program that targets sleep quality can help mitigate these losses and improve organizational success.
This guide to the benefits of sleep covers the top 10 reasons why sleep is important to our health. We’ll also provide answers to some frequently asked questions about what it takes to sleep better.
10 Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep
If you tend to limit the amount of Zs you catch each night, consider how important sleeping is to your well-being with these top 10 health benefits:
1. Sharpens Memory and Attention
Sleep is a key process in learning, attention, and memory. While you sleep, your brain removes toxins and waste, protecting your brain from disease. Deep sleep also helps your brain consolidate memories from the day, helping you to think better and clearer.
2. Increases Mood
One of the top mental health benefits of sleep is the impact sleep has on mood. Deep, restorative sleep helps you wake up feeling refreshed. Getting plenty of sleep is also essential to maintaining high levels of energy so you can remain productive and feel good throughout the day.
3. Reduces Stress
A lack of sleep can lead to poor mental health, including an increased risk of stress, anxiety, and depression. Having a good night’s sleep improves your ability to cope with stress and remain resilient as challenges arise.
4. Optimizes Immune System Function
There is a known link between sleep quality and immune system function. Sleep makes it possible for the body to generate immune cells that help your body fight infection and inflammation.
5. Boosts Cellular Repair
While you sleep, your body produces chemicals that help in the process of repairing damaged tissues. Throughout the day, your cells undergo a certain amount of stress, and sleep is what helps rejuvenate and continually repair them.
6. Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Insufficient sleep is linked to high blood pressure, heart inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Getting sufficient sleep helps relieve the heart’s stress load and prevent it from being overworked. Poor sleep quality is also linked to higher cholesterol and fat buildup in the arteries — a condition known as atherosclerosis.
7. Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
Many people don’t realize the importance of sleep for weight loss. Poor sleep quality leads to improper appetite suppression and increased cravings, causing you to consume more calories and gain weight.
8. Prevents Diabetes
Sleep is essential for maintaining the body’s ability to regulate various processes, including blood sugar production. Some studies show that getting enough sleep can help prevent diabetes by improving blood sugar control.
9. Improves Exercise Performance
Athletes and highly active people need plenty of sleep to help recover tired muscles. At certain stages in the sleep cycle, the body releases growth hormone, which is a critical chemical the body uses to repair damaged tissues. By getting sufficient sleep, athletes and active people can recover better and prevent the risk of injury.
10. Prevents Accidents and Injury
Sleep deprivation can be a serious risk to personal health and safety. Insufficient sleep impairs our focus and decision-making abilities, increasing the risk of traffic accidents and injuries around the house and at work.
FAQs About the Importance of Sleep
If you’re wondering how to reap the health benefits of sleep, explore the below answers to some frequently asked questions about the importance of sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
In general, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. However, the amount of sleep any given person needs depends on several different factors, including:
- Age — Younger adults need more sleep than older ones
- Daily activity level — Physically active people need more sleep than sedentary people
- Health level — People recovering from surgery or illness need plenty of sleep
How much sleep a person gets is only part of your personal sleep quality score. Adults also need to sleep with as few disturbances as possible.
What Happens During Sleep?
The sleep cycle consists of four stages, each categorized as either rapid eye movement (REM) or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
The first three stages of sleep — N1, N2, and N3 — are considered NREM. Each NREM stage sends your body into progressively deeper states of sleep. N3 is the deepest stage of sleep where the majority of restoration occurs. The fourth stage — REM — is when the brain is most active and lots of dreaming happens.
On an average night, you can expect to cycle through these four stages of sleep up to five times, with each sleep cycle lasting 90 to 110 minutes. As the night progresses, you spend less time in the NREM stages and more time in REM.
How Do I Improve Sleep Quality?
- Exercise daily
- Keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule
- Control environmental factors like temperature, light, and noise
- Stop consuming caffeine at least six hours before bed
- Avoid large meals before bed
- Limit alcohol intake at night
Improve Employee Sleep With Workplace Wellness Programs
Improving sleep quality can help optimize how we live and work. Unfortunately, many people face challenges getting enough sleep. By educating employees on the importance of sleep and how to improve sleep quality, you can empower them to take their personal health into their own hands.
Wellics offers a comprehensive employee wellness platform that’s based on a four-part educational model. Employees receive ongoing, expert-led training in four key areas of health, starting with sleep. Since sleep quality directly impacts cognitive function, it’s critical that employees be well-rested in order to perform at peak levels. Users can also track their sleep quality and the number of hours they sleep, helping them take control of their personal wellness journeys.
Learn more about how the Wellics wellness platform works and the ways it can benefit your organization.
Originally published October 15, 2022 - 13:52 PM, updated November 21, 2023