Sleep: The Surprising Benefits You DID NOT Know

Mar 21, 2012   //   by debbie   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Having trouble learning a new task? Find yourself forgetting things? Take a hard look at your sleep patterns.

Everyone enjoys the thought of a solid night’s sleep, especially after a long day. However, other than making you feel better, sleep has some surprising benefits—from heart health to memory.

Learning and Memory

The stage of sleep where you dream—called REM—plays a critical role in helping people recall how to do things.1 These might be tasks such as riding a bike, or the process of using a computer system at work.

In order to show improvement in learning, volunteers in recent sleep studies had to sleep at least six hours a night. And the longer volunteers slept, the more they improved. 2

Strong Immune System

Sleep allows the body to restore what it lost during the day. In certain studies following animals, the animals deprived completely of sleep lost all functioning of their immune system. The result? They died in just a few weeks.1

The body produces hormones during sleep that help the immune system fight infection. Without proper sleep, the body’s ability to fight illness decreases.

Better Decision-Making Skills

Did you know sleep-deprivation played a major role in the tragic 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger?  It was also ruled a key factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to focus and pay attention, increasing confusion. When these problems collide, it becomes more difficult to make a sound decision.

Healthy Heart

Sleep reduces the body’s heart rate and blood pressure by about 10 percent. This nightly dip in blood pressure is necessary for a healthy heart. Yet without enough sleep, this dip may not occur. Several studies show that a person is more likely to experience strokes, chest pain, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks without that blood pressure dip during proper sleep.




1 Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Sleep Guide


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