The New Year is here, and many of us are kicking off 2021 with aspirations of living happier and healthier lives after a tumultuous 2020. Some of us may be starting a new diet; others, a new workout routine, with any number of health and wellness resolutions in between. One key to fully benefit from a healthier lifestyle is an essential step people tend to forget: Getting a good night’s sleep.
Nationwide, 1 in 3 American adults do not get the proper seven to nine hours of sleep each night, affecting overall health. In Central Indiana alone, more than 1 million people are sleep deprived, with 750,000 of those suffering from snoring and 350,000 suffering from sleep apnea. Not only do the interruptions caused by snoring hinder the snorer’s ability to sleep properly, their partners and loved ones can be affected during the night, leading to some cranky breakfasts at the kitchen table.
Below, we look at three benefits a good night’s sleep can bring to our daily lives and how sleep can help us reach our wellness goals in 2021.
Aids in weight loss
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions each year is to lose weight or burn off body fat. Three of the top five most popular New Year’s resolutions heading into 2021 are health and weight-related. While exercising consistently and eating healthy foods are significant contributors to losing weight, maintaining proper sleep can also be critical.
Several studies have found that proper sleep can help with weight management and weight loss, such as decreasing one’s appetite. It is believed that a lack of sleep may affect the body’s ability to regulate the neurotransmitters ghrelin and leptin, which are connected to our appetite. When these neurotransmitters aren’t regulated, it can lead to increased cravings and dissatisfaction after we eat. A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that of 172 participants, those who were sleep-deprived consumed an average of 385 more calories than their well-rested counterparts, with participants overall consuming more fat and less protein.
Getting adequate sleep can also help boost physical performance after you exercise. Sleep plays a vital role in muscle growth and body performance by helping our bodies recover and synthesize protein and the human growth hormone. If we do not sleep properly, our bodies do not have the opportunity to carry out these functions while we rest, which can cause muscle loss and increase the chances of injury while exercising.
Betters mood and increases your productivity
We’ve all had those mornings where we “wake up on the wrong side of the bed.” Our previous night’s sleep can influence tiredness, irritability, and lack of motivation.
Sleep – and how much we get of it – can coincide with how we feel in the morning and, subsequently, our productivity throughout the day. As we have seen through the years when treating sleep apnea patients, proper sleep can help us feel refreshed and optimistic when starting our day. This can make work, workouts, or other daily challenges more attainable and even enjoyable.
On the contrary, when we don’t get enough sleep, stress and anxiety can take over, making work, exercise, and navigating our schedules increasingly challenging. What’s more, continued sleep deprivation can have long-term adverse effects. There is a correlation between sleep deprivation and psychiatric disorders, as chronic sleep problems affect 50-80% of patients at psychiatric practices compared to just 10-18% of the general population. Sleep is vital to our daily life and our overall mental health.
Boosts the immune system
Our immune systems have been put to the test due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proper sleep can help our immune system stay sharp by bolstering our T-cells while we rest, which can make a difference in staying healthy when the world is faced with a highly contagious disease.
As Americans continue to receive COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, we may think our work is done once we receive the injection, and our immune system will take care of the rest. The truth of the matter is we can aid our bodies after receiving the vaccine by getting enough sleep.
Some recent studies have shown that people who get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep the week before and after receiving the flu vaccine receive the shot’s full benefit. In contrast, those who sleep less could experience symptoms and complications from the virus even after getting the vaccine. COVID and influenza are not the same, but as more data comes out from the COVID vaccine rollout, we believe similar results will hold true.
Starting the New Year off with health and wellness resolutions can be a great way to jumpstart 2021. No matter what your resolutions look like, a good night’s sleep can help achieve them. Weight loss, productivity, and a boosted immune system are just a few of the benefits that can come from a good night’s sleep. We encourage you to prioritize getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to see how your overall health can improve.
As we enter this New Year, shut down Netflix early, leave social media for the morning, and tuck yourself in for a good night’s rest to reap the benefits for this new year and beyond.
This article was written by Dr. Steve Green is the Co-founder and Clinical Director of Arora Sleep. He has operated a dental sleep practice focused on treating sleep apnea for hundreds of patients for more than 13 years and is a national leader in oral device sleep treatments.
Brian Evans is the Co-founder and President & CEO of Arora Sleep. He is a medical technology executive with over 12 years of sales and marketing leadership experience and developed the Arora strategy.