How Getting Enough Sleep Can Help You Ward Off Diseases

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

You know that you feel better after logging enough hours of shuteye at night. But the benefits go deeper than your next-day energy level. Find out how adequate sleep can help keep your body working at its best, protecting you from some of the most common ailments.

It decreases inflammation.

Inflammation has been a buzzword lately in the world of health—and for good reason. Too much of it has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. And too little sleep, even for just one night, can lead to more inflammation. People who log six or fewer hours a night have increased markers of inflammation in their blood.

It lowers your risk of obesity.

Do you get the munchies after staying up too late? Shortchanging your sleep has major effects on your metabolism, hunger hormones, and insulin levels, leading you to feel hungrier, but manage the calories less effectively. Feeling fatigued could also cut into your exercise plans, leading to more calories in and fewer calories out. Unfortunately, poor sleep and obesity can create a hard-to-shake cycle, since obesity also ups your odds of obstructive sleep apnea, which can make it even harder to get a good night's sleep.

It helps to control blood sugar.

Deep sleep may be crucial to regulating glucose—that is, carbohydrates including sugar— in the body. Sleeping too little, therefore, could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, after sleeping just four hours a night for a week, otherwise healthy people's ability to break down sugars becomes 40 percent lower than normal—similar to those who don't make enough insulin and are at risk for diabetes.

It improves your mood.

It makes sense that you feel happier and less irritable after a restful night of sleep. But for people who are battling depression, disrupted sleep can be a major symptom of the disease—and improving sleep may be a first step to treating the depression. Talk to your doctor about any sleep issues, like sleep apnea, since treatment could yield a happier, healthier, well slept you.