Your Best Weapon Against Sickness: Sleep

It’s a change between Summer and Fall, which means sometimes our friends, family, and colleagues can get sick.  Part of this is due to the change in temperature, part of this is due to school being back in session (sickness can spread and morph more easily), but part of it is down to a major culprit in many short-term illnesses: a lack of sleep.  We’ve addressed the how-to of sleep in a previous article on sleep hygiene basics; in this article we will remind you why sleep is a gift you should give yourself often.

Ward away illness

At least one study has shown that those getting seven hours of sleep per night or less are three times as likely to get sick as people who get at least eight hours a night.  That longer period of rest allows your immune cells and proteins to proliferate and be ready for attacks.

Many more studies have established that there is a direct link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems like heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.  Insufficient sleep compounds into debt that is paid back years later with deadly consequences.

Lower your risk for injury

It is said that one out of five car crashes in the United States results not from drunk driving, but from drowsy driving.  That’s almost 1 million crashes a year happening simply because people are not sleeping enough.  Even for those not on the road, simple things like tripping while walking are more likely to happen when your body has been deprived of sleep.

Keep your weight in check

A part of weight gain is tied to a hormone called leptin.  Leptin helps to regulate the balance of energy in your body by inhibiting hunger.  When you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels go down, which means you get hungrier.  This means that you are also more likely to eat late, making quality sleep more difficult.  This puts you into a cycle that’s difficult to escape.  Additionally, if you are tired, you are less likely to get out for that walk or head out to the gym, which could help you maintain or lose weight.

Your brain on sleep

We’ve all experienced a “bad night’s sleep.”  Our thoughts are hazy and we find it difficult to get started.  But a good night’s sleep leads not just to more clarity of thought, but better memory.  Your brain uses sleep time to consolidate and “file” memories.  If you don’t give your brain enough time to “complete the transfer” the “files” can get lost.  In fact, sometimes these interruptions of your brain’s vital processes can lead to a development of false memories.

So, get to bed.  You need it, and everyone around you will appreciate the well-rested version of you.




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