The immediate effects of getting the proper amount of sleep are obvious. Someone who has gotten the proper amount of sleep is more likely to be alert and well-rested, whereas someone who hasn’t gotten good sleep is more likely to be groggy and irritable. However, the importance of getting quality sleep every night goes beyond simply feeling good the next day. How much sleep a person can affect a person’s health and quality of life, for better or for worse.
Immune System and Injuries
According to scientific studies, sleep has definitive effects on the immune system. While the body sleeps, its immune system produces a proteins known as cytokines. Cytokines are a broad category of small proteins that help the body fight pathogens and target inflammation. Losing sleep can lead to the body not producing enough cytokines, which can increase the risk of infection and reduce the capability of healing quickly following physical injuries. Getting enough sleep not only mitigates the effects of illness or injury, but also reduces the likelihood of future illness.
People who get better-quality sleep often see faster reaction times and an increase in coordination, and they tend to do better in high-intensity athletic activity such as weightlifting. Athletes improve their performance when they get better sleep. Studies have shown that athletes who get the proper amount of sleep tend to be more successful in team competitions, are able to move faster, have better post-workout recovery times, and have less fatigue.
Workplace Productivity and Safety
Sleep affects cognitive health as well. Sleep directly affects one’s focus, reaction time, and memory. Because of this, lack of sleep often negatively affects workplace productivity. The symptoms of sleep deprivation—especially slowed reaction time—also make employees more likely to sustain workplace injuries, especially when heavy machinery or driving is involved. In fact, you’re three times more likely to get into a car accident if you drive while drowsy.
Sullen or irritable behavior has long been associated with lack of sleep; however, the emotional toll of sleep deprivation can go deeper than that. Lack of sleep can make a person more prone to stress and anxiety, since the brain processes memories and experiences during sleep. These effects may have a greater impact on people who already struggle with anxiety disorders or mood disorders such as depression.
The importance of getting quality sleep goes beyond simply feeling well-rested or being in a good mood. Sleep is the body’s way of processing the physical, mental, and emotional effects of day-to-day life. Getting good, quality sleep gives people every advantage.