5 Legitimate Reasons to Get More Sleep
We’re all overly busy most of the time, what with work, friends, dating, keeping up with our fitness, and any other obligations or hobbies we engage in. Sometimes to fit all this into a day we end up pushing out a good night’s sleep, or we just compensate by getting on a really strange sleep schedule altogether. Here are some reasons why you should pay a little more attention to when you when you hit the hay and how many Z’s you’re getting…because sleep is more important than you think.
1. Driving Tired is Similar to Driving Drunk
Getting behind the wheel to drive while exhausted is super annoying, but it’s also dangerous. Feeling tired can change your reaction times and make you function more like a drunk driver than a sober one, even after just one night of disrupted sleep. Some studies suggest that more single car crashes are due to tired drivers than drunk ones. Don’t be that guy.
2. Lack of Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight
Having trouble getting rid of those last couple pounds? When you don’t get enough sleep your body starts to change the way it releases hormones, some of which can make you feel more hungry than normal and some of which change the way your body metabolizes carbohydrates. All eating and fitness habits aside, people who get better sleep are more likely to stay thinner or lose weight than those who don’t.
3. Sleep Affects Your Memory and Learning Capacity
If you feel a little fuzzy after staying up too late one night, it’s not just your imagination or your dire need for a latte. Lack of sleep can cause you to have a harder time storing new memories through disrupting memory consolidation. Experiments show that people who are taught a task and then get a good sleep perform better on tests later than people who did not follow up the learning with a good sleep. During sleep we also restructure our memories into different formations, so you might get the creative inspiration you need by hitting the hay as opposed to staying up later to ponder.
4. Lack of Sleep Can Take Down Your Immune System
Ever wonder why a crazy weekend often ends with a minor cold? It’s not just the booze you may or may not have not been pumping into your body, (that’s another story) it’s the lack of sleep you got. When we don’t get restorative sleep the immune system takes a nosedive. Sleeping too little can cause the body to release cortisol which causes stress and inflammation in the body, slowing wound recovery, speeding up aging, and leading to inflammation related issues down the line like heart disease and arthritis. No amount of vitamin C can make up for that!
5. We Benefit From Sleep Consistency
No one expects you to skip all your weekend bar time to go to bed at the exact same time each night, but we do get more benefits from sleep when we go to bed around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning. A schedule trains our body to release hormones at the right times during the night, and not at the wrong times which can add to insomnia.
Figure out the ideal time for you to wake up on weekday mornings and then count back to around 7 or 8 hours before that, and that’s when you should be going to bed. You don’t have to call it your bedtime, but sometimes it helps.
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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.