Surprisingly, no one really knows why we sleep. Health wise, you get the same muscular benefits from just resting as you do from sleeping. However, we do know the benefits of a great night’s sleep– plus the consequences of a poor night of sleep (ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed before?). To show you how much better your life is when you have satisfying sleep, let’s take a look at what you’re like when you’re well-rested versus when you’re sleep-deprived.
When you sleep, your neurons shrink to half their size, widening the channels through which your brain is “detoxed.” Your memory also improves, and research has shown that one extra hour of sleep per night has more impact on your daily happiness than an extra $60,000 in annual income. However, if you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to get in a car accident (1 in 5 car accidents are estimated to be caused by tired drivers), and not getting enough sleep also leads to lower grades, a shorter attention span, and ADHD-like symptoms in children. There’s also a clear correlation between sleeplessness and depression, although causation is still the subject of research and debate.
Your body needs sleep just as much as your brain does. Well-rested people lose more fat when dieting when compared to sleep-deprived people, who lose more muscle. Sleep is also crucial to athletic performance; a Stanford study found that college football players who aimed for 10 hours of sleep a night for 7-8 weeks significantly improved their sprint times and overall stamina. Researchers have also found that good sleep can supplement pain medication.
Other the other hand, people who get five hours of sleep per night are 73% more likely to become obese than those who get 7-9 hours. Being sleep deprived also weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to contracting illnesses and lessening your ability to fight them off. Finally, a Harvard study showed that healthy people who significantly reduced their daily sleep began to produce glucose more slowly, which is a major risk factor for diabetes.
So the next time you’re tempted to stay up late binge-watching House of Cards, think twice and remember all the benefits of a good night’s sleep and the consequences of being sleep deprived. Netflix will be there in the morning!