Sleeping well is essential for good health. Whether it’s regulating your metabolism, increasing your concentration, reducing stress, maintaining your skin and heart, or increasing your libido, you will find that your sleep is a precursor to your well-being. But before we list the most important benefits, what is sleep? Why do we sleep?
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The biological function of sleep allows us to recover from physical, intellectual or emotional fatigue. It allows the brain to assimilate, classify, remember and see more clearly the information accumulated during the day. Sleep allows the establishment and development of nerve circuits in the fetus and during the first months of the baby’s life. It also promotes the release of growth hormones, which explains why it is bad to deprive a child or adolescent of sleep. Sleep also contributes to healing, relieves stress, and allows for release and rest. In short, the health benefits of sleep are numerous.
The heart rests and the brain is cleaned
Sleep helps strengthen the immune system and make it more effective against seasonal viruses and surrounding microbes. It allows the heart to slow down and save itself and promotes the cleansing of the brain, which uses this rest time to eliminate cellular waste produced by neural activity when it wakes up.
A team from the University of Rochester explained in 2013 in the journal Science that “the brain has two different functional states. It is either awake and alert or inactive and in a clearing mode. Because it has limited energy resources, it is forced to switch between the two. The brain pumps the cerebrospinal fluid through the tissues and cleans them during the night. The waste products are transported through the bloodstream to the liver, where they are excreted.
Sleep contributes to learning and memory.
As Professor Robert Jaffard, a neurobiologist specializing in memory research at the B2V Memory Observatory, explains: “Sleep prepares the brain to learn, to encode new information. Later, it will consolidate the memory of this learning so that it becomes a stable and lasting memory”. In addition, sleep consolidates all our memories: “During light sleep and then the deep sleep that follows sleep, it is the declarative memory, consisting of our memories and our knowledge that is consolidated. During REM sleep, later on, it is the procedural memory, that of our motor and perceptive abilities”.
Sleep for more beautiful skin
A tired complexion, bags under the eyes, dark circles, pronounced facial features are a result of tiredness. Ladan Mostaghimi, a specialist in skin and sleep disorders from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Wisconsin explains that sleep “has a major effect on health and recovery from daily stress factors on all organs, including the epidermis”.
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When we sleep, collagen synthesis and blood flow increase. Skin temperature, permeability, pH and transepidermal water loss vary during sleep and insomnia. It is the increase in blood flow that helps give the complexion look more radiant in the morning after a good night’s sleep.
Stress, depression, anxiety
As already mentioned, sleeping is a way to take a break, to calm down. During the night, the nervous system calms down, the mind rests and the body is relieved of the stress waves it experiences while awake. A good night’s rest allows you to take a step back, see things more clearly, find new solutions and calm the tensions of the previous night. Sleep is also valuable for relationships and social life. It helps you to make the right decisions.
On the other hand, lack of sleep impairs judgment, logic, concentration, affects mood, promotes negative mood, depression, and anxiety.
Sleep increases libido
A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2015 showed that every minute of sleep is precious for women: an extra hour of sleep would increase their sexual desire by 14% the next day. Longer sleep would also promote vaginal lubrication.
As you can see, sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. A combination of good sleep, regular physical activity, good nutrition, and smoking bans will only improve your condition.