We are at a time when taking care of your own health has never been more important, and sleep is an often-understated part of that equation. A recent study published in Science Daily, for example, found that adults with a healthy sleep pattern experienced a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to those with unhealthy sleep patterns. They defined healthy as being people who get up in the morning, always slept around 8 hours a night, and experienced no frequent insomnia, snoring, or excessive daytime sleepiness.
The health of your heart isn’t the other thing at stake. Not only is insomnia linked to a variety of health concerns, but getting little sleep can also increase the level of stress hormones in your bloodstream. It’s a positive feedback loop, as being stressed can make it harder to sleep well, and poor sleep quality will help boost those stress levels.
Stress hormones can increase your feelings of both stress and anxiety. Over time, being subjected to these emotions can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. And while sleep isn’t a magical cure for stress, it is one of the mechanisms your body uses to regulate these hormones.
Common consequences of chronic stress include obesity, cardiovascular diseases, menstrual problems, high blood pressure, and more. As far as your mental health goes, chronic stress increases your risks of suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and even various personality disorders.
Why is sleep becoming more important?
One of the factors that make a good night’s sleep more important than ever is the impact that it has on your immune system. During your sleep, your body produces various substances that help fight off inflammation and strengthen your body. And according to SleepFoundation.org, sleep can boost the body’s adaptive immunity, and may even strengthen the effects of vaccines.
As the article states, the interaction between various immune system components during your natural sleep cycle reinforces your immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.
Of course, this does not mean that sleeping more will magically make you immune to all diseases. But having a stronger immune system means your body will be able to more easily deal with everyday infections, which will free up resources that can be used to protect the body if you do catch anything more serious.
How to protect your sleep
Stress is one of the leading causes of insomnia around the world. If you are the type who is often kept up at night due to stress and worry, it’s important to work on strategies that will help make sure you are relaxed by bedtime.
One strategy that many experts recommend is for you to have a bedtime ritual. This means you’ll start taking a series of steps at least one hour before bedtime which will help you relax and fall asleep more easily. Common steps utilized include having warm tea, listening to soft music, and taking a long warm shower. You can find more useful steps in this VisionBedding guide.
Staying away from the news and social media can also be beneficial. If the state of the world is what’s keeping you up, consider making it a rule that you won’t watch the news past sundown — there is plenty of time to worry during the day, after all.