For the first time in more than a year, I took a nap today, and though this would’ve sounded like the best idea ever to my college self, I’m starting to regret my decision to check out for two hours this afternoon. Not only are long naps extremely disorienting, but they also cause weird and crazy dreams that throw me off for the rest of the day.
Though naps do have some health benefits, I’d rather sleep in one giant block, and that’s why I wish I’d stayed in bed a little longer this morning. If I had to choose between eating and sleeping, I’d probably go with the latter, as I can sleep when I’m hungry but cannot function or pretend everything is great when exhausted. Shut eye is more important to your well-being than you may realize, so here are some reasons to swat your snooze button in the morning.
7. Beauty sleep is a real thing
Ever wonder how Penelope Cruz manages to look so great? She prioritizes beauty rest. The actress has said of her bed time routine, “I sleep 12 hours when I’m not shooting and it does wonders for me.” Frankly, 12 hours sounds excessive, and I know too much shut eye can hurt the body, but if you reward yourself with good rest after a long day, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and beautiful. Poor sleep can stress you out, tightening your capillaries and causing your skin and hair to appear dull. Singer Christina Aguilera would tell you the same thing about the value of quality rest, “People spend money on beauty potions, but a good night’s rest makes all the difference.”
6. It strengthens your memory
I used to have somewhat of a photographic memory, but now I’m lucky if I can remember the date of my last menstruation at doctor appointments (seriously though, why do they always ask that?!). More sleep will help you remember the little and important things, according to Dr. Rapoport, an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice. But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.”
5. It’ll make you an A student
I’ve been hearing this since childhood and it used to really bother me. School typically starts really early in the morning even though kids are still growing and need their rest, and when they don’t perform well on exams or assignments, it’s chalked up to sleep deprivation. That said, studies suggest more sleep is the key to higher academic marks, so maybe schools will eventually take the hint and start the days later. At least I can hope for that.
4. It alleviates pain and sickness
After Hurricane Sandy hit NYC in late 2012, I fell ill with debilitating bronchitis. My physician prescribed me with a slew of medications, including codeine to fight my nearly back-breaking cough, but I knew sleep would ultimately nurse me back to health. When you’re not awake, the body can work on getting better, as it can’t recover when you’re running around, working away or doing other vigorous activity. Sleep may also reduce chronic pain, so the more you sleep, the better your aching, sickly body will feel.
3. It puts you in a better mood
Though I definitely become “hangry” at times, nothing ruins my mood quite like a lack of sleep. Getting the rest you need will prevent any sleep-deprived outbursts or surliness on your end, and it’ll keep your relationships in a happy place as such.
2. It can control your stress levels
It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you’re tired, so getting enough sleep may curb the pressures and troubles in your life. “Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure,” Dr. Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in NYC, said in an interview with Health.com. “It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.”
1. It lets you maintain a healthy weight
As odd as it sounds, sleeping less can actually increase a person’s weight, according to Sanjay Patel, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University. “There are over two dozen studies that suggest that people who sleep less tend to weigh more,” Patel says, continuing, “[y]ou may start not only eating more, but eating unhealthy foods — those high in fat and carbohydrates. Another possibility is that because people who are sleep-deprived feel more fatigued, they exercise less.” The more sleep you get, the more drive you’ll have to hit the gym. Just be prepared to feel tired after putting that elliptical to work.
What else do you love about sleep? Share in the comments section below.