If you’ve been struggling to get some decent sleep, well, you’re not alone. During this COVID-19 pandemic and “new normal” work and school schedules, a good percentage deal with “coronosomnia.” In some places, over 35 percent of those interviewed said they could have some shut-eye.
But sleep helps you manage your health better, and if you’re looking for more incentive to add it to your to-do list, then read these studies.
Here’s How Sleep Improves Your Well-Being
By now, you already know that, as an adult, you need about 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. It’s not only because it leaves you feeling refreshed and alert the next day. Its effects can even be metabolic and immune system-related.
So turn off those phones and blue light, invest in custom window valances and draperies, and probably turn on some soothing music. These science-backed studies will tell you that sleep helps you live longer and thrive in this pandemic.
1. Good Sleeping Habits Are Associated with Lower Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, pandemic or no pandemic. While it can be genetic, a good portion of the incidents is related to lifestyle, including sleep hygiene.
According to a 2011 research by the University of Warwick, sleep deprivation and long nights getting stuffed with caffeine can increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks.
Sleeping for 6 hours, particularly when it is intermittent because you’re disturbed by something, can boot the odds of dying of a stroke by 15 percent. It also raises the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease or dying from it by over 45 percent.
Meanwhile, a more recent study by the American Heart Association revealed that if you just correct your sleep schedule and then make it a habit, you may decrease your odds of cardiovascular disorders by 42 percent.
But what is the link between sleep deprivation and premature death from heart disease? One of the possible explanations is the increased production of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, is what keeps your body mentally and physically awake throughout the day. As the sun sets, the body clock shifts to producing more melatonin that helps you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
When you lack sleep, you train your brain into saying you need more cortisol. To keep you alert, this hormone then raises your blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. Now imagine subjecting your body regularly to these increases. It won’t be surprising anymore why you are likely to develop heart disease.
2. Lack of Sleep May Only Introduce Metabolic Conditions
Many chronic conditions are interrelated because of how chemicals, such as hormones, interact with one another.
For example, a person who’s obese has an increased risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. All these are currently major risk factors for COVID-19 and other disorders.
In 2018, the University of Arizona Health Sciences revealed that sleep loss might lead to all these problems—and more. This is because it may entice you to engage in late-night snacking and increase your cravings for junk food.
To understand why, you can refer to a much earlier study on the relationship between the brain, food, and sleep deprivation or loss. The bottom line is lack of sleep messes with your brain:
- It may lower your ability to feel satiated, so you feel hunger.
- It decreases your capability to choose the right food.
- If that isn’t enough, your brain seems to compel you to consume high-calorie foods.
Now, craving for snacks and junk foods past midnight once or twice a month doesn’t result in obesity. The problem happens when it becomes chronic.
Moreover, more studies suggest that sleep loss or deprivation can negatively impact metabolism. This is what some people call “feeling sluggish.”
Not getting enough sleep can reduce the production of leptin, which inhibits hunger, and increase ghrelin, which is your hunger hormone.
Sometimes people compensate for their lack of sleep by snoozing longer on weekends. But according to experts, while this may help offset sleep debt, the best strategy is still consistency.
Also, it is not enough that you get 7 hours of sleep. It is equally important to have uninterrupted sleep. If you find yourself waking up more often, perhaps you have a bigger problem than insomnia. That warrants a visit to your doctor.
Nevertheless, you are not a hopeless case. Every day is a good time to reset your internal clock, get the amount of sleep you deserve, and help your body stay healthy.