While the exact reason that humans sleep remains a puzzle, scientists have a few main theories. It’s possible that sleep evolved as a way to keep us safe during the vulnerable hours of darkness, a means of conserving energy, a restorative activity, an aid to brain plasticity or some combination of all of these.
There are four different stages your body cycles through while asleep, and each stage is characterized by distinct brain activity. When you’re able to complete multiple sleep cycles without interruption, you wake up feeling rested.
Despite the questions that still linger around sleep, one thing is certain: quality rest leads to unmistakable benefits.
Benefits of Healthy Sleep Habits
After a sound night of sleep, you feel like you can take on the world—and for good reason. A restful night of shuteye doesn’t just give you the energy to face the day, it also helps on a much deeper level.
Some of the biggest benefits of healthy sleep include:
- Optimal brain function — Getting plenty of quality sleep supports many aspects of cognitive function, like concentration, memory and problem solving.
- Positive mood and emotional health — A review of numerous studies indicates that sleep quality and mental health are closely related; quality rest may help support a generally sunnier outlook.
- Proper metabolic function — One study of healthy young men found that glucose metabolism is negatively impacted during prolonged sleep restriction; another study found that restricting sleep for just one week reduced insulin sensitivity.
- Immune health — Getting plenty of sleep may even help support a strong immune system. In one study, healthy individuals graded their sleep quality. Later, they were given nasal drops containing the rhinovirus—a.k.a the common cold. The study found that those who got less than seven hours of sleep were nearly three times more likely to get sick than those who got at least eight hours of sleep.
With such a broad list of benefits, it’s clear that getting plenty of quality sleep should race to the top of your list of priorities.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
People require different amounts of sleep depending on age and other health factors, but most adults should get at least seven hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.
It’s not just the duration of your slumber that counts, though, it’s also the quality. High-quality rest where your body is able to cycle through all of the sleep stages is key.
Healthy Sleep Cycle Support
Even when you know how important sleep is, it can be tough to get the quality rest you need every night. When you could use a little extra support, melatonin supplements may be helpful.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, so it’s a gentle way to support healthy sleep cycles for anyone who struggles with occasional disruptions. The benefits of quality sleep can’t be ignored and melatonin may be a drug free way to help support healthy sleep cycles.