There are so many tasks to accomplish in a single day, who has time to sleep? Rest is often last on the list of priorities because there is just too much to do. Unfortunately, lack of sleep could be decreasing your potential for success. There are a number of amazing benefits of sleep that you could be missing out on. These could be game-changers in multiple areas of life! That doesn’t give you an excuse to be late for work or miss date night, but here are some reasons you should try and get a solid seven to nine hours regularly.

Sleep Makes You Happy

Getting a full night’s sleep decreases stress hormones such as cortisol. This allows you to take on the day with a fresh outlook. A 2007 study done by neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley demonstrated that sleep deprivation equates to increased and even irrational emotional responses. It is difficult to have a glass half full mentality when your mind is half asleep. That makes sense as to why people who get less sleep are often grumpy or irritable. Get some rest and be happy!

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Health Improves with Sleep

An adequate amount of sleep allows the immune system to maximize functionality and combat all those pesky cold and flu bugs. Your immune system works just as hard as you do, so if you aren’t fully-charged, neither is it. Getting a good amount of shut-eye can also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, and diabetes. Nobody wants any of that! Turn out the light to reap all of the health benefits of sleep.

Sleep Yourself to Fitness

You may be quite the gym rat, but you will never optimize results if you aren’t giving your body a chance to recover. Sleep is the time in which the muscle fibers broken down during a workout are able to repair and grow. This is also when burned calories are able to break down fat. Don’t waste those hours of exercise by pulling an all-nighter! Sleep also affects the hormones that control hunger and fullness. If left fatigued, these hormones could wreak havoc on your dieting efforts.

Sleep Makes You Smarter

During sleep, your brain prepares for the next day and forms new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Adequate sleep helps you remain attentive, make good decisions and inspires creativity. Studies show that the skills to comprehend new concepts and conduct problem solving are much sharper when one is well rested. Think about that before you try to cram that last minute study session in the night before finals or prepare a last-minute work presentation.

Safer with Sleep

A good night’s rest will keep you alert and responsive. Throughout recent history, a number of devastating catastrophes have been linked to sleep deprivation. Some of these events include the Challenger space shuttle explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, countless airplane crashes, train wrecks, and even the Chernobyl nuclear explosion. If you consider your life to be low-risk, know that an infinite number of car accidents have been caused by sleepy drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a 2016 report stating that drivers who only received five to six hours of sleep in 24 hour period were twice a likely to get in an accident as those who had seven or more hours of shut-eye. Studies also show that you are less likely to have household incidents such as falling off ladders, slipping in showers and cutting fingers instead of vegetables when you are well-rested.

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The difference in Sleep Cycles

Taking a quick mini-nap, here and there, is always good, but will not give you the same benefits as multiple hours of sleep in succession. There are multiple levels of sleep that the body runs through, and each is important. There are generally five cycles altogether. The first four take place within non-rapid eye movement (NREM) cycles and the last is REM sleep.

NREM Sleep

When first falling asleep, the first several minutes (up to seven) are spent in a very light sleeping phase. Sleep gets progressively deeper as brain function slows. Stages three and four are where deep sleep occurs and restoration takes place. Muscle tissue is able to recover and develop. Immunity is boosted and energy is stored up for the waking hours during this time.

REM Sleep

While NREM produces a lot of benefits for the physical body, REM sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. During REM sleep, the body can only breathe and rapidly move the eyes back and forth. The brain becomes more active in this state and this is where dreams occur. A REM cycle can last up to an hour and most adults average five to six cycles a night.

Optimize the Benefits of Sleep

Just staring at the ceiling all night, or continuing to wake due to external factors will not grant you the full array of necessary sleep cycles. Solid, uninterrupted rest is important to achieve all the awesome benefits of sleep. Go put on your comfy pajamas, turn off the TV and hit the light switch. Bring on the sleep!