8 Reasons Why Sleep Is Vital

8 Reasons Why Sleep Is Vital

June 30, 2021 0 By Editorial Board

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Going without a good night’s rest can make you feel sluggish the next morning and impact your entire day. Maybe you find yourself constantly yawning or splurge in a mid-afternoon nap to try and make up the sleep you lost. A busy schedule and life, in general, can mean our sleep can be interrupted, or we have fewer hours to commit to getting an adequate amount of rest. Skipping on sleep isn’t good for us, but most of us probably don’t give a second thought about it beyond being aware of how tired we feel in at that moment. So, how important is it to our health to get enough sleep?

Importance & Benefits of Good Sleep


You get sick less.

Those that don’t get quality sleep or even enough of it are more likely to get sick. Their immune systems become weaker, and that causes them to be more susceptible to coming down with a virus, like the common cold, when they are exposed.

Here’s why that is the case:

When you sleep, your immune system releases essential proteins called cytokines. These need to increase in situations like when you have an infection, develop inflammation, or you’re under a lot of unnecessary stress. “If you’re experiencing sleep deprivation, this may decrease the production of cytokines, which protect you,” anesthesiologist, Dr. Tomkinson, explains. Cells, along with infection-fighting antibodies, reduce during periods when you don’t get the sleep you need.


Sleep helps your weight. 

There may very well be an association between weight gain and your sleep, according to research. “Sleeping four hours a night may increase hunger and appetite, especially for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates,” Dr. Tomkinson remarked, explaining the importance of enough sleep. Studies have shown there is also a link between sleep restriction and obesity for adults, adolescents, and children alike. An explanation may be that the duration of our sleep affects the hormones responsible for regulating hunger, such as ghrelin and leptin. Lack of sleep is also a contributing factor to fatigue, and that means a less physical activity for a person, and physical activity is vital in maintaining a healthy weight.


Reduce your risk of serious health problems.

Enough sleep lowers your risk for serious health issues like heart disease and diabetes. When we sleep, our blood pressure goes down, which helps our heart. The reverse, the lack of sleep, translates to your blood pressure staying higher for a longer time. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease. And, good sleep is shown in studies to help control blood sugar and lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes.


Sleep reduces stress.

According to surveys, adults who get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night reported feeling more stressed. American adults were found to only get an average night’s sleep of 6.7 hours a night. They also shared that stress keeps them awake, preventing them from good rest. Stress can negatively impact your overall health, and sleep is key to helping it.


It helps your thinking, learning, and memory.

We all have a sleep cycle, and our total sleep is made up of several rounds of the sleep cycle. The breakdown of a person’s sleep cycle is commonly called sleep architecture. In this cycle, there are four individual stages: REM is rapid eye movement sleep, and the other three form non-REM sleep (so non-rapid eye movement sleep). Analysis in brain activity determines these stages, and there are distinct patterns that characterize each stage. Typically, a person will go through four to six sleep cycles a night. On average, each one lasts about 90 minutes. “During sleep, our brain activity fluctuates, increasing and decreasing during different sleep stages that make up the sleep cycle,” Dr. Tomkinson says. In the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, the overall activity in our brains slows, but quick bursts of energy occur. We dream more intensely during the REM stage because brain activity picks up very rapidly. Each stage in the sleep cycle plays a role in brain health by allowing the activity in the different parts of our brain to increase or decrease. This enables us to think, learn and remember things more clearly.


Sleep helps your mental health.

“Sleep and mental health are closely connected, and both demonstrate a link to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder,” Dr. Tomkinson explained. Getting sufficient sleep helps your mental health. REM sleep is crucial for processing emotional information. As you sleep, your brain is hard at work evaluating and remembering thoughts and memories. A lack of sleep is harmful to having positive emotional content. It can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is linked to mental health disorders. Not getting enough sleep can also contribute to the severity of these disorders and creates a risk of suicidal ideation and behaviors.

Here are a few of those disorders:

Depression: Depression’s symptoms are felt by an estimated 300 million people worldwide and is are marked by feelings of sadness and helplessness. Many of those struggling with depression also have insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and hypersomnia (sleeping too much). There is growing evidence poor sleep may induce or exacerbate depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: This is a subtype of depression that affects people most often during times of the year where there is reduced daylight. This disorder is tied to a person’s biological clock, their circadian rhythm, being disrupted. This includes multiple processes in their body, including sleep.

Anxiety: Anxiety disorders are strongly associated with sleeping problems. This can appear as insomnia as well. Lack of sleep can activate anxiety in people who are at high risk for it.

Bipolar Disorder: Researchers have found that it’s typical for those who have bipolar disorder to experience a change in their sleep patterns before the onset of an episode. There is evidence as well that points to sleeping issues inducing or worsening manic and depressive periods.

ADHD: Sleep problems in people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are common. Difficulties in falling asleep, waking up frequently, and excessive sleepiness throughout the day are just some aspects of ADHD that sleep has a factor. Not enough sleep can aggravate symptoms such as a poor attention span and affect behavior.


Sleep helps your relationships.

Yes, good sleep has an impact on your relationships. For numerous reasons, this is true, but research has also found a link between empathy and sleep. More sleep leads to more empathy, with the opposite being true for the lack of it. Dr. Tomkinson says, “A person’s emotional empathic responses relate to their quality of sleep through increased neural activation of a specific area in the brain called the insular cortex.”


Good sleep, good decisions.

When you’re sleepy, you’re not as alert. This can make tasks like driving your car become dangerous when they ordinarily wouldn’t be. There is a delay in your brain’s ability to react quickly, coordinate properly, and your judgment can be poor due to not enough sleep. All of this is known as cognitive impairment, and the cause can be not having the hours of sufficient sleep you need.


So, how much sleep do I need then?

Now that we understand the importance of sleep let’s talk about how much sleep you should aim for. On average, most adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep. And that means good quality sleep. Having a consistent schedule is critical and will benefit you in so many ways. Sleep needs to be a priority you not only make but keep high on your to-do list.

Many factors can cause us to experience poor sleep. Factors such as busy work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a disruptive bedroom environment, and health issues get in the way of receiving enough sleep. “Having a healthy diet and lifestyle that is positive can help ensure the proper amount of sleep,” Dr. Tomkinson added.


Helpful habits to incorporate into your daily routine to support better sleep:

  • Change up what you usually would do during the day.
  • Get outdoors every single day.
  • Make sure physical activity is planned for earlier in the day and not right before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine like coffee, soda, and tea later in your day.
  • Limit daytime naps to 20 minutes or less.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.
  • Eat only light meals closer to when you go to bed.
  • Nicotine in cigarettes can cause sleep problems.


Helpful habits to incorporate into your nightly routine to support better sleep:

  • Create a good sleep environment: room should be dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Keep electronic devices such as TVs, your laptop, or your smartphone out of your bedroom.
  • Set a bedtime routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each night and day.
  • Aim to get the same amount of sleep each night.
  • Avoid things like talking on the phone or eating in bed.
  • Avoid using electronics like playing video games right before bed.
  • Try relaxing techniques to help you relax.


Sleep is vital for our physical and mental well-being. When we don’t sustain adequate sleep, our bodies feel it. “Sleep is essential to our bodies and allows us to recharge. A body and mind that are recharged by sleep leave you refreshed and alert when you wake up,” Dr. Tomkinson said.


Medical Disclaimer: The information in this article is not meant for diagnostic purposes, and we are not doctors. Please consult your doctor before making any decisions concerning your health.



Get Enough Sleep. Get Enough Sleep – MyHealthfinder. (n.d.). https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 4). How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/sleep.htm.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress and sleep. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep.

Mental Health and Sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2020, September 18). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress and sleep. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 21). CDC – Drowsy Driving- Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/drowsy_driving.html.

Why Do We Need Sleep? Sleep Foundation. (2020, September 11). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep.

Mental Health and Sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2020, September 18). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health.