It’s easy to overlook rest as a core pillar of health and well-being, but a good night’s sleep does more than just ward off grogginess — it can significantly impact your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Our board-certified neurologists at Advanced Medical Care in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, see the effects of sleep deprivation daily and offer state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to determine the root cause of your sleep problems.
Here, our experts explain the critical aspects of sleep, shedding light on its profound effects on multiple health aspects, including weight management, immune system strength, exercise performance, and heart health.
Sleep is an essential yet underappreciated factor in weight management. Research has consistently shown that inadequate sleep can contribute to weight gain. When you deprive yourself of sleep, your body triggers a cascade of hormonal changes — ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, increases, while leptin, which signals fullness, decreases. This imbalance can lead to overeating and, subsequently, weight gain.
On the flip side, good sleep habits can help you maintain a healthy weight because regular, quality sleep regulates your hormones and reduces your risk of obesity.
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against disease-causing microorganisms, and sleep plays an integral role in keeping it strong and functional. So, when you burn the midnight oil and don’t get quality snooze time, you weaken your immune system, leaving yourself susceptible to contracting illnesses.
During sleep, your body produces and releases proteins called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, effectively creating an optimal environment for the immune system to function.
Adequate sleep helps ensure the body has sufficient resources to fight off infections, but a weak immune system can make it challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep because infections and inflammation affect your energy levels. This ongoing cycle can be difficult to break without help.
It’s no secret that exercise is essential to your overall health, but you may not know that sleep is essential to exercise.
If you’re an athlete or just an active person, sleep is non-negotiable. It aids muscle recovery, promotes growth hormone production, and consolidates memory, which is vital for learning new skills.
A lack of sleep can result in decreased performance, slower reaction times, and increased susceptibility to injuries. Prioritizing sleep can maximize your athletic performance and enhance the benefits of exercise, regardless of your fitness level.
Researchers have linked chronic sleep deprivation to an increased risk of heart disease, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and irregular heartbeat.
During sleep, heart rate and blood pressure naturally lower, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a break. This rest period is essential for maintaining your overall cardiovascular health. In fact, getting adequate sleep could be as important as a balanced diet and regular exercise in keeping your heart healthy.
Quality sleep is a cornerstone of cognitive functioning — it improves your memory, mood, productivity, and concentration. During sleep, your brain forms new pathways to help you learn and remember information, so a good night’s sleep can make you sharper, more attentive, and more creative.
Sleep regulates your moods. When you miss a night’s sleep or only get a couple of hours a few nights in a row, you’re more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. On the other hand, good sleep keeps you emotionally resilient.
Sleep also affects your ability to cope with stress. When you’re well-rested, your body is better equipped to respond to stressors, and you can maintain a balanced emotional and physiological state. However, sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
Lastly, sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk for depression. Chronic insomnia, in particular, can lead to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
If you struggle with sleep, don’t wait until it ruins your health. Use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment, or call the Advanced Medical Care office nearest you. Our sleep medicine specialists can diagnose and treat all sleep disorders, from obstructive sleep apnea and bruxism to narcolepsy, bedwetting, and restless leg syndrome.