The importance of mental and physical health and its awareness is on the rise worldwide. Being productive, giving yourself adequate time to relax mentally and physically are essential, but there's one factor people take for granted- sleep. Sleeping on time and consistently without any disturbances is one of the best ways to heal and rejuvenate your body. Without adequate and healthy sleep, everything in your life falls apart, be it your physical or mental health.
We spend up to 1/3 of our day sleeping and more in bed (depending upon lifestyle). Yet, we pay less mind to how we sleep and its effect on our health than we do to our waking life activities. The best way to address this issue is to be more mindful, increase your awareness, take action, and, yes, relax and go to sleep on time.
Impact of Insufficient sleep on your health:
Although some people love oversleeping and relaxing, most do not get enough sleep because of lifestyle factors or sleep environment. Before we talk about sleep quality's impact on your health, the time you spend sleeping is just as crucial. Sleeping over or under is similar to other lifestyle issues like over or under-eating, excess or lack of exercise, and so on. While an excess of sleep would make you a lazy person and has its cons, the lack of sleep is much more dangerous. Impact of insufficient sleep on both mental and physical aspects of your health:
- Mental health issues: Since our brain needs much more relaxation and undergoes different sleep phases, the lack of sleep has a drastic effect on mental health.
a. Concentration issues: When you don't get enough sleep during the night, your mind faces reducing its creative thinking. Additionally, your ability to focus on tasks at hand fails drastically, as the mind hasn't recovered or appropriately rejuvenated. Due to lack of sleep, you may procrastinate more, find it difficult to focus on work or other life activities, and have trouble staying focused for longer durations. As a result, this leads to other issues because of lack of self-control and inability to work, time management, and other lifestyle issues.
b. Memory impact: One of the main factors that lack of sleep affects is the brain's ability to remember things over time. Be it short-term or long-term memory, and you would find it difficult to remember things unless you note them down somewhere. Finding oneself going to the market or completing a task and forgetting the objective are examples of memory impact lack of sleep induces. Unfortunately, lack of sleep causes both short- and long-term damage, depending upon the severity of sleep disorder, health issues, or lifestyle issues.
c. Mood changes: The difference between a good day and a bad day can be as simple as the number of hours you're able to sleep. Going through disruptive or inadequate sleep puts you at risk of going through several mood changes and is hard to regulate. As mentioned, staying focused on different tasks becomes a challenge, and our mood goes out of control. Your sleep regulates your ability to stay mentally sane, and less sleep leads to sleep debt, and emotional health takes a hit too. The best way to stay productive, keep your emotions in control is by getting proper sleep.
- Physical health issues: Physical health also takes a hit with inadequate sleeping hours as our body isn't working in its best condition. Different systems in your body stop working properly and lead to health issues when you sleep less.
a. Immunity issues: The lack of sleep leads to inadequate immune response, and you find yourself getting more fevers and cold than usual. One of the most critical factors that sleep helps our body is boosting immunity/letting the body heal. But if you get too little sleep or inadequate sleep consistently, your body's immune response, rendering you prone to common colds and infections.
b. High blood pressure: Less sleep leads to high blood pressure because inadequate sleep also leads to the degradation of your blood vessels. It can be because of accumulated minerals in joints or improper fat absorption leading to higher blood pressure. Since the blood vessels are compromised, and other parts of your body are not healing correctly, chronic sleep disorders also lead to high blood pressure. Insomnia, for example, increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular issues because of inadequate sleep.
c. Obesity and diabetes: Inadequate sleep also decreases the levels of insulin that enter our bloodstream. Less sleep than usual indicates your brain that you're still waking (semi-waking state) and continues producing the appetite hormone (ghrelin). This leads to you feeling hungrier and, in the mood, to snack in the middle of the night or during the day. Additionally, insulin and ghrelin imbalance leads you to snack more without proper digestion of your food, increasing blood sugar. Together, these factors increase your body weight without proper energy utilization and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
d. Reproductive health issues: Either due to an increase in fat, poor sugar regulation, and several internal systems going haywire, your reproductive health also suffers. Because of decreased testosterone or the generally lower libido in the body, you lose your ability to perform appropriately. In females, inadequate sleep also does this, except that the hormonal balance would affect other systems. During pregnancy, inadequate sleep leads to high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
e. Lack of balance: Have you ever saw yourself tumble out of bed when you've not slept properly? The initial loss of balance is because our body and senses aren't properly energized or lack the coordination to run or walk right out of bed. Well, imagine how a consistent lack of sleep does to your body, and insomnia and sleep disorders can literally put you off-balance. These factors make you more prone to falls, accidents, or getting out of bed injuries.
Impact of Sleep Quality on your Health:
Sleep quality or our ability to stay asleep after going to bed is also an indicator of your health. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night for different reasons or having to wake up and go to sleep frequently, it means you have poor sleep quality. While several factors induce poor sleep quality, your health relies on your sleep quality heavily. The more you sound like a baby, the better your health is. While the lack of sleep and low sleep quality are different things technically, here is what impact sleep quality has on your health:
- Loss of focus: The inability to stay asleep and enter deep sleep can cause one to lose focus in daytime activities. Because our mind doesn't get enough rest and relaxation because of poor sleep quality at night, it can't perform optimally during the day. This is as simple as being tired and not moving, and sleep quality gives a similar scenario to our brain.
- Sleep Debt: Be it lack of sleep or poor sleep quality, your body needs to rejuvenate and heal. One way or another, either it will get its sleep or give you side effects of not sleeping properly. If you've ever slept less because of exams, work, or other reasons, you tend to sleep more the next day. In case of chronic sleep disorders and inadequate sleep, your body accumulates sleep debt. This sleep debt makes you sleep non-stop for unhealthy periods, and you lose out on a lot of things. This issue impacts your body both mentally and physically, and the best way to prevent it is to get good sleep.
- Depression and Anxiety: Since the mind doesn't get its rest, the thought patterns and neurological pathways in your mind are clouded. A lack of sleep due to poor sleep quality can make it difficult to complete basic tasks, find joy in simple things and make you anxious. High-functioning anxiety, clinical depression, or other mental disorders come knocking if you don't get quality sleep. Not only does your body need physical rest, but your mental fitness and brain wants it to perform optimally. Before fixing your lifestyle issues with depression, anxiety and jumping into mental health classes, it is best to check if you're sleeping right. High-quality sleep promotes the proper balance and secretion of necessary happy hormones like serotonin, boosts testosterone, and regulates other hormones too. Either because of hormonal balance or a cascade failure of tasks or thought patterns in your body, you get different health issues.
- Weight gain: One of the main reasons sleep is necessary and recommended for weight loss is our body's consumption effectiveness. For example, sleeping in a sound and proper sleep environment increases your weight loss or regulation ability. While most of it is hormonal, as mentioned earlier, part of it is also psychological. Additionally, sleeping properly gives your gut and digestive systems to take out more energy from your fat storage than use the energy meant to repair your body. Eventually, a sustained pattern of poor-quality sleep leads to weight gain, obesity, and the inability to lose weight for a healthier lifestyle.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep disorders are common in people with poor sleep quality. Sleep disorders are both neurological and physical, and you should read this to know more. Sleep disorders arise when your body either hinders you from sleeping or staying asleep and sleep quality comes in the latter category. The inability to rest and stay asleep can cause nightmare sleep disorders, night terrors, apnea, snoring, and other issues. It affects both your physical and mental health issues, which can be hard to diagnose, especially if you live or sleep alone.
Benefits of Quality and Proper Sleep:
Getting proper sleep and going through high-quality sleep is just as beneficial for your health as any other lifestyle improvement factor. But sleep influences our mind and body much more because our body heals and restores itself in this phase. As a result, we get several advantages and side-effects if we get good and adequate sleep:
- Weight loss: People struggling to lose weight either because of lifestyle or mental factors can start with sleeping correctly. The best way to lose weight is to maintain good sleep quality and hygiene. Proper sleep helps promote a healthy balance of energy utilization, increasing your metabolism. High-quality sleep makes use of your fat storage to fuel the body's energy requirements with the help of hormones. Moreover, your insulin production and blood sugar come back to normal, making it easier to digest food during the day.
- Waking up fresh: One of the most apparent benefits of good quality sleep is to wake up feeling fresh and take on any challenges and things you need to do on a new day. Good quality sleep revitalizes your brain and restores functionality, making it easier to stay asleep and wake up feeling fresh. You feel more productive, less prone to procrastinate, among other benefits.
- Body clock: If you have good quality sleep consistently and on-time, one of the main advantages is body clock and time management. Your body clock knows when to sleep and when to wake up, and more so, without alarms. Getting proper sleep wakes you up feeling fresh when you wake up every day, and the same scenario applies to sleeping on time. This aids our metabolism; body processes and helps us plan our waking time better. So, if you're looking to improve your lifestyle, fixing your body clock first would give a massive boost.
Ways you can improve sleep quality:
Sleep quality improvement requires tiny lifestyle and sleep environment changes, and the benefits are not-so-little. You can enjoy a better lifestyle and better sleep with massively improved health levels if you have good quality sleep. To improve sleep quality, you can try out these practices:
- Light exposure tricks: Either because of graveyard shifts or improperly aligned body clock, many people find it difficult to go to sleep on time and wake up on time. While this happens to most people staying in the arctic or having jet lags, light plays an essential role in improving your sleep quality. Bedroom lighting should be warmer and dim at night, while brighter and more environmental in the day. Like any other animal, our body clocks align with our brain's perception of night and day. The spectrum of environmental light plays an essential factor in helping improve sleep quality. When you go to bed, it is best to dim the lights or only use warmer color options to make the brain perceive it as a sunset. However, when you take your work, entertainment, or devices to bed, the blue spectrum from the devices or lighting makes your brain think it's still a day. Being aware of these tricks and techniques helps you go to sleep and stay asleep with high-quality sleep phases.
- Workout regime: Working out improves every aspect of your lifestyle, including sleep quality. If you walk for as little as 15 minutes per day can help improve your cardio health and sleep quality. High-intensity exercise or strength training makes your sleep even better because your body needs time to rejuvenate and recover from the muscle cells' breakdown and recovery in sleep. This attracts more energy to recovery and boosts your physical strength, making it easier to stay asleep. However, the effect may not be immediate, and you may see an improvement in your sleep cycle in months or weeks, depending upon your physical activity. Moreover, working out should also have its own time, rather than tire yourself out before sleep. That would be counter-productive and become a reason for you to not sleep on time or enter deep sleep.
- Diet regime: Fixing your sleep needs just as much effort with your diet as physical discipline. Similar to weight loss discipline, all you need to do is to avoid food right before sleeping. Practicing intermittent fasting can also help fix your diet patterns, and following a circadian rhythm can help with both sleep and diet. This case applies more to junk food, and you can still gorge on nuts or something light. Junk food and alcohol before sleep make it difficult to stay asleep because all the energy needed to recover your mind and body is spent digesting it. Oily food or junk food high on carbs and complex substances makes it difficult to sleep, making you wake up thirsty. All of this high calorie and complex food consumption before sleep makes it difficult to sleep and poses other health problems.
- Unwind and relax: Do you go to sleep with your work, studies, or personal life stress? The level of stress you have at sleep leads to anxiety and overall lower sleep quality. These things make it difficult to sleep and relax, which is the first step your body needs to go to sleep. While you can't switch off your thoughts and stresses with a switch, working on your mental self is one way. You can practice journaling, meditation, gratitude, or any other practices you like to follow to look back on the day and melt that stress away. Unwinding is one of the best ways to get rid of stress, and these practices help you, whether it's day or night. Reading books or playing calming video games is okay as long as you limit your screen exposure to 1 hour or more before bed. Taking any screen or action to bed reduces your sleep quality and makes for lousy sleep hygiene. If your unwinding includes movies or other forms of entertainment, you can do it, but leave one 1 hour without screens for your mind to follow the body clock.
- Sleep environment cleanliness: One of the main benefits of having a clean bed or clean room to go to sleep is the mental relaxation it gives us. Sure, you might be used to sleeping in your mess or an unclean room, but we're talking about the mental and physical benefits of good sleep. To induce the same, you need to see the calming effect a clean bed or a high-quality mattress has on your mind. Without it, you can go years on end not lifting a finger to organize your environment or experience a better sleeping environment. The proper cleanliness of your room, a mattress that suits you, and a high-quality pillow to align your spine and body in a neutral posture are best for your sleep quality. A high-quality mattress can make you feel like your body is safe both mentally and physically, and the clean room has its benefits.
- Lifestyle changes: If you work in a graveyard shift job, have a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet choices, all these catches on to you sooner or later. The best way to make the change is now, and going to sound sleep at night needs an active effort during the day. If you have recurring nightmares, sleepwalking, excessive snoring, restless leg syndrome, and other sleep disorders, it is time to address your lifestyle. The best way to sleep soundly is to live soundly in the day. Mindfulness in your waking lifestyle can help correct your sleep before it's too late to fix your sleep with a decision rather than medicines.
Sleep needs a conscious effort, and while the benefits and disadvantages can seem overwhelming, your sleep shouldn't be that way. A relaxing environment free of worries is something that everyone deserves in this world. You don't need to be rich or have prerequisites to sleep soundly; however, to boost your sleep quality is another thing. While you make the conscious and mindful effort to fix your sleep routine, it would also help to look at a suitable bed mattress that cushions and comforts your body without your effort. Our SleepID algorithm helps make the best decision for your sleep environment, thereby increasing your sleep quality.