Sleep’s Impact on Health and Wellness

Health and wellness don’t happen by accident. It takes effort, work, and time to develop the habits that build a strong body. You’ve probably already considered diet and exercise, but there’s one aspect of health that’s easy to overlook—sleep. However, it can be one of the most important because it maintains your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Sleep for Physical Strength
Without enough sleep, you may not feel like taking care of yourself. Researchers have found that getting enough sleep actually helps motivate you to exercise. At the same time, regular exercise can also wear you out so that it’s easier to fall asleep.

But, sleep’s effect on your physical strength goes beyond exercise. It also helps your body recovery from daily wear and tear, injury, and overuse. While you’re in the deepest sleep stages, the brain releases human growth hormone that triggers the muscles to repair themselves. If you don’t spend enough time asleep, injuries may linger or you may find yourself fatigued because you haven’t fully recovered from a tough workout. You absolutely need sleep to keep and build your strength and stamina.

Increase Emotional Stability
Your emotional health and stability also rely on adequate sleep. Without enough of it, the part of the brain that controls your emotions becomes overactive and sensitive to negative thoughts and events. Usually, the brain’s logic center would help you work through your emotions, but when you’re overtired, this part of the brain gets quiet. That leaves room for your emotions to run wild.

A full seven to nine hours of sleep for adults and anywhere from eight to twelve (depending on age) for children can reduce anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness. For children, it reduces impulsivity and sets the stage for healthy peer and adult relationships.

Eat Better with Sleep
Sleep also helps regulate appetite and food cravings. The brain releases too much hunger hormone and too little of the hormone that makes you feel full when it’s tired and fatigued. Lack of sleep changes the foods you want to eat too. There’s a part of the brain that gets a reward from food. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, that part of the brain gets bigger rewards from unhealthy foods that are full of fat and sugar, making you want to eat them more than usual.

Creating Good Sleep Habits
If you’re going to get the sleep you need, you have to build the right habits. Try to:

Go to bed on time. Your body relies on consistency to correctly time your sleep cycle. By going to bed on time, you help the brain know when to release sleep hormones. Try to keep the same bedtime on weekdays and weekends.

Build a relaxing bedtime routine. A bedtime routine that’s full of relaxing activities like reading a book or taking a warm bath help your mind and body prepare for sleep. The routine can be as simple as changing into your pajamas before brushing and flossing your teeth as long as they are performed at the same time and in the same order each day.

Get outside. Sunlight helps the brain time your sleep cycle. Go for a run, walk around the block, or sit on your front porch to get all the sunlight you need.

Eat for better sleep. Meal timing is another way the brain knows when to start the sleep cycle. Try to evenly space your meals and eat them around the same time each day.

Sleep acts as a base for your overall health and wellness. It may take time to build better sleep habits, but they are worth it. You’ll have more energy, feel more positive, and make better food choices. Getting better sleep can help you achieve your health goals and create the active lifestyle you need for a lifetime of good health.