A 2014 survey of 43 cities found Singapore to be the third most sleep-deprived, while a 2018 survey of 12 countries places the island as the second most in need of sleep. Singaporeans average six hours and 32 minutes of sleep a night, instead of the recommended eight or nine hours for adults. Another poll by Singhealth Polyclinics showed that 44 per cent of us sleep less than seven hours on weekdays.
These are some worrying statistics as sleep plays an essential role in our health and wellbeing. Getting good quality sleep has many benefits, including protecting our physical and mental health, quality of life and personal safety. Here are some benefits from consistently getting a good night’s sleep:
BOOST IMMUNE SYSTEM
During sleep, our immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which are needed when we have an infection or inflammation, or when we’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective proteins, thus making us vulnerable to diseases. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are also reduced in production as a result of sleep deprivation.
HEAL DAMAGED CELLS
If there are areas that need to be healed, the brain triggers the release of hormones during sleep that encourage tissue growth to repair blood vessels. This heals wounds faster and restores sore or damaged muscles. As mentioned above, when we sleep the body also produces more white blood cells to attack viruses and bacteria that can hinder the healing process.
Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Research has shown that sleep deprived people who get six or less hours of sleep a night, have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more sleep.
A 2010 study discovered that C-reactive protein, which is associated with increased heart attack risk, was found higher in people who slept six or less hours a night. Sufferers of sleep apnea or insomnia can improve their blood pressure or inflammation by treating these sleep disorders.
MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT
If you were planning to lose weight, you should take sleep into consideration as well. Researchers found that dieters who got enough sleep lost more fat - up to 56% of total weight lost! - than those who were sleep deprived. The sleep deprived dieters were found to lose more muscle mass.
Dieters in the same study also found that they felt more hungry when they got less sleep. This is because sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. Sleep helps to balance our appetite by maintaining optimal levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin in our bloodstream.
BOOST BRAIN FUNCTION
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, such as cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.
During sleep, the brain strengthens memory or “practice” skills learned when we were awake, in a process called consolidation. Sleep actually triggers changes in the brain: strengthening connections between brain cells and transferring information from one brain region to another. If you’re learning something new, like a foreign language or a new sport, you will perform better after sleeping well.
In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, a good night’s sleep allows your brain to restructure and reorganise information, resulting in new and insightful responses, which subsequently leads to enhanced creativity. On top of that, great ideas are mostly borne of the unconscious mind, instead of the conscious one.
PROTECT MENTAL HEALTH
Do you notice that a lack of sleep makes you cranky and irritable? This is because our ability to regulate emotions reduces after a bad night’s sleep. A study conducted found that participants who had been sleep deprived for approximately 35 hours showed a greater amygdala response when presented with emotionally negative pictures compared to those who had not been sleep deprived. Links with parts of the brain that regulate the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) seemed weaker too, meaning that these participants were perhaps less able to control their emotions. A lack of sleep may lead to anxiety, depression and generally a horrible mood!
Come join us on November 24th, for the debut of our Full Moon Sleepscape, a collaborative effort with Guavapass that incorporates Yin yoga, Aromatherapy and Sound Therapy to take you into a deep slumber. This five hour session includes chakra cleansing, meditation and the immersive sound of both ancient and modern sound healing instruments - the Didgeridoo, Pipa, Gongs, Crystal bowls and RAV vast drums.
You can book your tickets here!