10 Reasons to Get More Sleep
1. May help you maintain or lose weight Numerous studies have associated short sleep - defined as sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night - with a greater risk of weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI) (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source). In fact, a 2020 analysis found that adults who slept fewer than 7 hours per night had a whopping 41% increased risk of developing obesity. Meanwhile, sleeping longer didn't increase the risk (6Trusted Source). The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be affected by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise (5Trusted Source). For instance, sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin and decreases levels of leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that makes us feel hungry while leptin makes us feel full. This may cause us to feel hungrier and overeat (7Trusted Source). This is supported by various studies that have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source). What's more, to compensate for lack of energy, sleep deprivation may make you crave foods that are higher in sugar and fat, due to their higher calorie content (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source). To make matters worse, feeling tired after a night of too little sleep may leave you feeling unmotivated to hit the gym, go for a walk, or do whichever other physical activity you enjoy. So, prioritizing sleep may support healthy body weight. SUMMARY Short sleep duration is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity and weight gain. Sleep deprivation may increase your appetite and cause you to eat more calories. In particular, you're more likely to eat foods high in sugar and fat. 2. Can improve concentration and productivity Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. Cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance are all negatively affected by sleep deprivation (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source). A specific study on overworked physicians provides a good example. It found that doctors with moderate, high, and very high sleep-related impairment were 54%, 96%, and 97% more likely to report clinically significant medical errors (15Trusted Source). On a similar note, getting enough sleep can improve academic performance in children, adolescents, and young adults (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source). Finally, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance in both children and adults (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source). SUMMARY Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory. In contrast, poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function and decision making skills. 3. Can maximize athletic performance Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. Numerous studies have shown that adequate sleep can enhance fine motor skills, reaction time, muscular power, muscular endurance, and problem-solving skills (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source). What's more, lack of sleep may increase your risk of injury and lower your motivation to exercise (24Trusted Source). So, getting enough sleep may be just the thing you need to take your performance to the next level. SUMMARY Getting enough sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance. ADVERTISEMENT 4. May strengthen your heart Low sleep quality and duration may increase your risk of developing heart disease (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source). One analysis of 19 studies found that sleeping fewer than 7 hours per day resulted in a 13% increased risk of death from heart disease (29Trusted Source). Another analysis found that compared with 7 hours of sleep, each 1-hour decrease in sleep was associated with a 6% increased risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease (30Trusted Source). What's more, short sleep appears to increase the risk of high blood pressure, especially in those with obstructive sleep apnea - a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source). In fact, one study found that people who slept fewer than 5 hours per night had a 61% higher risk of developing high blood pressure than those who slept 7 hours (33Trusted Source). Interestingly, excessive sleep in adults - more than 9 hours - was also shown to increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source). SUMMARY Sleeping fewer than seven hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 5. Affects sugar metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk Short sleep is associated with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance - which is when your body cannot use the hormone insulin properly (34Trusted Source). In fact, an analysis of 36 studies in over 1 million participants found that very short sleep of fewer than 5 hours and short sleep of fewer than 6 hours increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 48% and 18%, respectively (35Trusted Source). It's thought that sleep deprivation can cause physiological changes like decreased insulin sensitivity, increased inflammation, and hunger hormone changes, as well as behavioral changes like poor decision making and greater food intake - all of which increase diabetes risk (36Trusted Source). Plus, sleep deprivation is associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. These factors also increase your risk of diabetes (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source). SUMMARY Many studies show a strong association between chronic sleep deprivation and risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 6. Poor sleep is linked to depression Mental health concerns, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source). One study in 2,672 participants found that those with anxiety and depression were more likely to report poorer sleep scores than those without anxiety and depression (40Trusted Source). In other studies, people with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report higher rates of depression than those without (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source). If you have trouble with sleep and notice your mental health has worsened, it's important to speak with your healthcare professional. SUMMARY Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder. 7. Supports a healthy immune system Lack of sleep has been shown to impair immune function (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source). In one study, participants who slept fewer than 5 hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to develop a cold compared than who slept more than 7 hours. Those who slept 5-6 hours were 4.24 times more likely (45Trusted Source). Some data also suggests that proper sleep may improve your body's antibody responses to influenza vaccines (46Trusted Source). Recently, preliminary data shows that getting enough sleep before and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination may improve vaccine efficacy. Still, more research is needed to better understand this possible connection (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source). SUMMARY Getting at least 7 hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold. It may also improve COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, though more research is needed. 8. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation Poor sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in the body. Sleep plays a key role in the regulation of our central nervous system. In particular, it's involved in the stress-response systems known as the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (51Trusted Source). Sleep loss, especially from disturbed sleep, is known to activate inflammatory signaling pathways and lead to higher levels of undesirable markers of inflammation, like interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein (51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source). Over time, chronic inflammation can cause the development of many chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes (51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source). SUMMARY Sleep disturbance is linked to higher levels of inflammation. Over time, this can increase your risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's disease. 9. Affects emotions and social interactions Sleep loss reduces your ability to regulate emotions and interact socially. When we're tired, we have a harder time controlling emotional outbursts and our behaviors in front of others. Tiredness may also affect our ability to respond to humor and show empathy (53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source). Plus, those who are chronically sleep-deprived are more likely to withdrawal from social events and experience loneliness (55Trusted Source). Prioritizing sleep may be a key way to improve your relationships with others and help you become more social. If you deal with loneliness or emotional outbursts, don't be afraid to reach out to a friend, family member, or healthcare professional to get support. To learn more, view this list of resources. SUMMARY Sleep deprivation may reduce your social skills and ability to process emotions. Lack of sleep can be dangerous Not getting enough sleep can be dangerous for yourself and others. When we're tired, our ability to focus on tasks, reflexes, and reaction times decreases. In fact, being severely sleep-deprived is comparable to having consumed excess alcohol. Concerningly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 25 people have fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. Those who slept fewer than 6 hours were most likely to fall asleep while driving (56Trusted Source). One 2018 study found that people who slept 6, 5, 4, or fewer than 4 hours had a risk of causing a car accident that was 1.3, 1.9, 2.9, and 15.1 times higher, respectively. This study suggests that your risk of a car accident increases significantly with each hour of lost sleep (57Trusted Source). Further, the CDC reports that staying awake for more than 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. After 24 hours, this increases to 1.00%, which is over the legal driving limit (56Trusted Source). In addition to increased risks associated with driving, lack of sleep may also increase the risk of workplace injury and errors (58Trusted Source). All in all, getting proper sleep is important for everyone's safety. SUMMARY Severe sleep deprivation increases your risk of getting in a car accident or being injured at work. It can greatly affect your ability to make critical decisions. The bottom line Along with nutrition and exercise, taking care of your sleep is one of the pillars of health. Lack of sleep is associated with many negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, inflammation, and sickness. Though individual needs vary, most research suggests that you should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Just like you prioritize your diet and physical activity, it's time to give sleep the attention it deserves. Browse our sleep shop and discover all the best products for achieving deeper sleep Just one thing Try this today: For the next week, keep track of how many hours of sleep you get per night. If it's less than 7, try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every day the following week. Gradually increase this until you're getting at least 7 hours per night.