Benefits of Uninterrupted Sleep
Nothing can be as annoying or exasperating than not being able to sleep through the night. Instead of getting uninterrupted sleep, we awaken several times per night, staring at the alarm clock that says you should still be sleeping. Interrupted sleep is common among healthcare workers, ambulance drivers, firefighters, and parents of infants. Not getting uninterrupted sleep can cause havoc in our daily lives so that, even if we get the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours) it feels as though we are not getting enough quality rest.
The benefits of uninterrupted sleep are many. When our sleep is uninterrupted, we are able to go through the natural patterns of sleep, alternating between non-REM sleep and REM or “dreaming” sleep. We need to go through these cycles in order to feel rested during the day.
Ideally, with uninterrupted sleep, we have enough REM sleep to feel rested and we don’t spend too much time trying to get back to sleep once awakened. When we get interrupted sleep, it is easy to awaken in the morning, feeling confused and unable to recall what happened during our interrupted sleep pattern. We feel less rested with this type of sleep and it can lead to depression and anxiety during the day.
In some lucky people, uninterrupted sleep comes naturally. They go through several cycles of non-REM and REM sleep and it causes us to awaken refreshed and without the dark cloud of a restless night’s sleep behind us. Others must work hard to get uninterrupted sleep by practicing good sleep habits. I have provided some great tips on my article How To Get Uninterrupted Sleep. Below are some of the benefits of getting an uninterrupted sleep:
Sleep Benefits for Heart
Getting uninterrupted sleep is beneficial to our hearts. When we are allowed to sleep for long periods of time without awakening, it causes a reduction in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. In short, while we sleep, our heart gets a chance to rest from its normal waking sleep. People who have heart failure do better when they get a long period of rest. Fluid from the ankles can be drawn back up into the body and excreted through the kidneys while we are reclining in sleep.
The excess stress put on the heart by frequent wakening can lead to heart attacks as well. The longer we can go in a decreased metabolic state of sleep, the less will be the stress on the heart to put out more blood and oxygen to our extremities and core organs. If you are prone to heart attack because of family history and known plaques on the arteries, it is best to get uninterrupted sleep so that you allow the heart to calm down and put itself in a decreased metabolic state, reducing heart attack risk.
Sleep and Obesity
Lack of sleep causes obesity. Uninterrupted sleep leads to leaner people who are less likely to suffer the consequences of being obese. Have you ever awakened from sleep with a craving for carbohydrates and fat as part of a late night feast? It has been found through research that a lack of sleep interferes with the leptin ghrelin hormonal pattern. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us hungry and leptin is the hormone that turns off hunger. Getting up in the middle of the night contributes to a ghrelin excess and so you eat more carbs in order to satisfy nocturnal cravings. People who sleep less than 8 hours a day in a study put out by the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University had more body fat than those who got more sleep. Another study revealed that the secret to losing weight lies in getting at least six hours of sleep per night. Failing to do so, not only puts on pounds by overeating at night but it affects the metabolism so you can’t lose weight either.
The Immune System and Sleep
You need your sleep to have a proper immune system. Interrupted sleep can negatively impact the way the body uses the immune system to fight off illnesses and repair damaged areas of the heart. A lack of sleep promotes the stress response, which naturally reduces the ability of the immune system to work effectively. Your lack of sleep may contribute to getting colds, flu, and bacterial infections not effectively tended to when you try to skimp on sleep or have problems getting a steady amount of sleep at night.
Sleep and Mental Health
Sleep has a big impact on your mental health. A lack of uninterrupted sleep can adversely affect the ability of brain neurotransmitters to keep our mental health strong. It has been found through research that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to suffer more from mental disorders such as depression and anxiety states. Even phobias can be made worse by not getting enough sleep. Your brain needs to vitalize itself during sleep and when it cannot do this, it can interfere with mental health.
Studies of people who get less sleep because of rotating shift work or night shift working have found that these people are biochemically more prone to getting major depression, especially if they are at risk for depression due to a family history of depression or past bouts of depression.
Sleep and Memory
Sleep is important for memory. Scientists have discovered that the learning you undergo during any given day is allowed to become incorporated into long term memory when we sleep at night. Without long stretches of uninterrupted sleep, we tend to lose those memories. This is why it is important to get enough sleep prior to taking an examination. Simply cramming the information into an “all-nighter” before a test will not allow those memories to be organized and consolidated during the sleep cycle, especially during REM sleep. We make more logical and sharper decisions when our bodies have had enough uninterrupted sleep.
Uninterrupted sleep means getting more and better quality of sleep. Getting a good quality amount of sleep is as important to day time activities as things like getting enough exercise and eating right.