We’re all very familiar with our good friend sleep. We’ve all felt feelings of irritation when we are deprived of it when that alarm beeps early before work, or that complete satisfaction after a full night’s sleep. We’re all very aware that sleep is good for us at a basic level but why exactly do we love it so much?
Even though sleep is a huge part of our lives, there are still many undiscovered areas and blind spots in scientific research. We’ve taken a deep dive into some studies to uncover the following benefits.
Although we’re technically resting, a hell of a lot is going on!
It reduces our stress levels
Stress builds throughout the day - every moment of stress contributes, no matter how big or small; whether it’s getting irritated by the person on the train with loud music or having an argument with a colleague. These moments activate our ‘stress response’ which releases cortisol (a steroid hormone) and adrenaline which were used to trigger our ‘fight or flight’ responses. In the modern day, we don’t need this power on a daily basis so it builds up and remains unused. Sleeping helps to reduce this build up and neutralise the stress.
It allows us to think and act more clearly
Berkeley carried out a study on sleep which discovered that the pre-frontal cortex shuts off when we’re experiencing a lack of sleep. This part of our brain plays a role in some of our most complex cognitive behaviours including personality expression and decision making. Keep it fed with sleep!
Sleep improves memory
A relationship between sufficient sleep and memory has been built through numerous studies. Sleeping helps us to to process information - ever experienced that feeling of clarity after pondering a big decision the night before? That’s the REM state of sleep helping us in the process of acquiring learned material. One study which investigated declarative memory (which is ‘what we know’ or fact-based information), a rise in REM sleep was documented for participants in an intensive language course.
These studies also looked into procedural memory which relates to the process of remembering how to do something, such as a new yoga position or learning the guitar.
Our neuronal connections are also heightened in the process of sleep, these connections are used to link our memories which lacks without sufficient sleep.
It helps you to gain control of your diet
Our hormones become incredibly unbalanced when we’re suffering from a lack of sleep. A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh documented an increase in the hormone ghrelin (responsible for boosting feelings of hunger) and a decrease in an associated hormone called leptin (responsible for telling us when we’re full) among people deprived of sleep. As a result of this seesaw effect, sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to have a warped view on their hunger which could lead to potential problems in undereating, overeating and for our general diet.On the flipside there are some foods which can help you sleep, check some of them out here