We have so many demands on our time—jobs, family, errands—not to mention finding some time to relax. To fit everything in, we often sacrifice sleep. But sleep affects both mental and physical health. It’s vital to your well-being.
Of course, sleep helps you feel rested each day. But while you’re sleeping, your brain and body don’t just shut down. Internal organs and processes are hard at work throughout the night.Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH.
When you’re tired, you can’t function at your best. Sleep helps you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. “The fact is, when we look at well-rested people, they’re operating at a different level than people trying to get by on 1 or 2 hours less nightly sleep,” says Mitler.“Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving and attention to detail,” Mitler explains. Tired people tend to be less productive at work. They’re at a much higher risk for traffic accidents. Lack of sleep also influences your mood, which can affect how you interact with others. A sleep deficit over time can even put you at greater risk for developing depression.