There is nothing like retiring to bed after a long day or sleeping in on a weekend morning. In fact, sleeping is literally the most relaxing thing you can do. But sleep isn’t just periodic downtime, it’s an act that is essential to your good health.
In a Health.com feature, Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, explains,
“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep. If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.”
Of course you know that a good night’s sleep makes you feel rested, but some of the other benefits may surprise you. The following list from WebMD describes the ways that getting enough sleep keeps you healthy. (All quotes are from WebMD unless otherwise noted.)
- Overall better health: “[S]tudy after study has found a link between insufficient sleep and some serious health problems, such as heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.” During sleep our bodies take the time to repair and rejuvenate themselves. Also, per Mayo Clinic, “During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress … In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
- Clear thinking: It’s no surprise that when you’re tired, you thinking is impaired. Have you noticed that your attention span, patience and decision-making are affected as well?
- Less pain: “Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold.” Also pain leads to less sleep so creating a vicious cycle.
- Lower risk of injury: This is because the more tired you are, the more accident-prone or careless you tend to be.
- Weight control: The first part is obvious. When you’re tired you may not want to exercise or cook a healthy meal. In addition, you may not realize when you’re tired, your leptin levels drop — leptin is the hormone that helps you feel full. So if you find yourself craving unhealthy foods when you’re really tired, it’s not all in your mind.
- Better memory: As we sleep, our brains process information and transfer it from our short-term to our long-term memory through a process called consolidation. “If you don’t get enough sleep, it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly — and can be lost.”
Unfortunately for some people, a good night’s sleep is something they can only dream about. Many of these people suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea not only makes you tired, but also if not treated, can cause serious long-term health issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
- Worsening of ADHD
If you or someone you love is consistently having problems with getting a good night’s sleep, Westwood Ear, Nose & Throat can help. Schedule an appointment today with one of our expert physicians for a consultation. With a patient-centered approach, we will take the time to thoroughly discuss your symptoms and develop an individualized treatment plan, which can be either surgical or non-surgical. Surgical treatments include radiofrequency turbinate reduction (RFTR, shrinks swollen tissues in nose), procedures which aim to enlarge and stabilize the airway in the upper portion of the throat, a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, procedures that reduce the size of the tongue, orthodontic procedures like palatal stiffening, surgery for a deviated septum, or treatments for many of the other conditions described on our site that block the airways.