There’s nothing quite like the feeling of waking up after a good night’s sleep. And while experts don’t fully understand why we need sleep, they do know that getting enough is essential for your physical and mental health. From boosting your immune system to improving memory, here are five ways a good night’s sleep can benefit you.
1. Improve your mood.
When you get a good night’s sleep, your body releases chemicals that boost your mood and relax the parts of your brain that can keep you awake when you’re stressed. A good night’s rest also helps you reorganize and make stronger memories, so you can be more creative in the future, according to a 2021 study published in Science Advances.
2. Reduce the risk of chronic illness.
Whether it’s diabetes, asthma, arthritis or heart disease, sleep can help your immune system fight off the bugs that cause them. That’s because a good night’s sleep supports the proteins and cells that destroy germs, viruses and other unwanted invaders. It also gives those same cells and proteins time to heal while you’re sleeping, so that when you come in contact with the same bacteria or viruses again, your body can fight them off better than before.
3. Protect against diabetes.
Sleep is essential to keeping your blood sugar in check, because it helps your body use glucose (sugar) properly. In fact, if you go more than one night without getting enough sleep, your blood sugar may rise to a level that puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sleep can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight by helping your muscles burn more energy when you’re sleeping, rather than storing that energy as fat.
4. Improve your heart health.
During a stage of sleep known as non-rapid eye movement, your body repairs your heart and blood vessels. Getting enough sleep can help lower your cholesterol levels, which in turn helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and strokes. In addition, a lack of sleep can raise your blood pressure and put you at a higher risk for stroke and heart attack. Getting a good night’s sleep can also help lower your risk of obesity, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
5. Strengthen your immune system.
When you get a good night’s rest, your body’s immune system can work hard to fight off the bugs and viruses that threaten your health. And a well-rested immune system can also help you stay healthier in the long run by helping your body respond to vaccines more effectively, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.