We recently published a post on the benefits of sleep for the immune system. However, we still receive a lot of questions from our followers on the benefits of sleep and how it affects their overall health and vitality. So, we decided to compile the top 5 Reasons to Go to Bed Early and the importance of having a good night’s sleep. Sleep has been, for many years, ignored as a major player in health. Fortunately, the work of many dedicated researchers and the spread of knowledge through books and the internet has shed light on crucial information regarding sleep and its pivotal role in human health.
Here are 5 Reasons to Go to Bed Early:
1. Improve Immunity and Reduce the Risk of Inflammation-Related Disorders
- Sleep duration and sleep disturbances are related to the dysregulation of inflammatory markers, immune cell counts, and cellular aging markers1.
- Sleep can affect several immune parameters: leukocyte migration and distribution, cytokine production, leukocyte activity and proliferation, antibody levels, complement activation, expression of cell adhesion molecules, and immune-related genes1.
- For example, lack of sleep has been associated with suppression of natural killer cell activity, reduction in lymphocyte counts, and increase in certain proinflammatory cytokines2-7.
- Sleep disturbance (i.e., insomnia, poor sleep quality, and/or insufficient sleep) contributes to the risk of inflammatory disorders and major depressive disorder8,9.
- Furthermore, sleep disturbance contributes to inflammation-related health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and major depression9.
2. Essential for Memory Formation and Consolidation
- Sleep and, more specifically REM sleep functions to facilitate the formation and consolidation of certain types of memory10,11. Indeed, studies reveal that hippocampal neural activity during REM sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation11.
- REM sleep is essential in brain development, learning, and memory consolidation. It functions by selectively eliminating and maintaining newly formed neuronal synapses to facilitate learning and memory12.
- Several other functions have been attributed to REM sleep, including facilitating cortical plasticity, restoring nerve cell/receptor function, and enhancing creativity10.
- Furthermore, by restructuring new memory representations and consolidating recent memories, sleep facilitates the extraction of explicit knowledge and insightful behavior. This means that sleep increases the ability to gain further insight into complex problems13!
3. Optimize Hormone Production and Improve Fertility
- Sleep/wakefulness and circadian rhythms profoundly affect many hormones, contributing substantially to the day/night fluctuation in hormone levels14.
- For example, sleep strongly affects growth hormone levels,14 and sleep duration plays a crucial role in maintaining male serum testosterone levels15.
- Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in cortisol secretion and a reduction in testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 116.
- Sleep contributes to regulating and optimizing insulin secretion14.
- Sleeping patterns also produce generic signatures that physiologically drive the synthesis, secretion, and metabolism of hormones essential for reproduction17.
- Quality, time, and duration of sleep directly affect infertility. Studies show that sleep deprivation produces marked changes in reproductive hormones critically related to male and female fertility17.
4. Increase Muscle Recovery and Athletic Performance
- Several studies have shown the importance of sleep for muscle recovery and athletic performance16,18,19,20. Sleep deprivation influences inflammatory and hormonal responses, affecting muscle recovery19.
- Some researchers suggest that lack of sleep decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways. This combined effect favors muscle mass loss and concomitantly hinders muscle recovery. Muscle recovery is necessary after exercise and injuries, but also for certain conditions associated with muscle atrophy, such as sarcopenia and cachexia, both very critical in cancer patients16.
- Evidence shows that sleep deprivation clearly negatively affects athletic performance, including reaction time, accuracy, vigor, strength, and endurance. While also affecting cognitive functions such as judgment and decision-making20.
- Sleep extension positively affects performance, including reaction times, mood, sprint times, accuracy, etc20.
5. Improve Mental Health
- Global sleep quality is associated with mental health, and poor sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, and stress9,21,22.
- A 2021 meta-analysis found a dose-response relationship between sleep quality and mental health, concluding that “greater improvements in sleep quality led to greater improvements in mental health” and that “sleep is causally related to the experience of mental health difficulties.” The same article suggests further studies evaluating how interventions that improve sleep could be incorporated into mental health services23.
- A recent systematic review examining how combinations of physical activity, sedentary time, and sleep duration relate to depressive symptoms and other mental health indicators among children and adolescents concluded that meeting the screen time and sleep duration recommendations appeared to be associated with improved mental health benefits, even more than meeting the physical activity recommendation24.
- Another study found a significant correlation between both physical activity levels and sleep quality with mental health25.
- A growing concern with younger populations is the (over)use of social media, with evidence linking excessive social media use to poor sleep quality and negative mental health26.
Five reasons may seem small, but the above factors will highly affect many other functions in your body, for your health, well-being, and longevity. As Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says in his 2019 Ted Talk: “Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality!”
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiol Rev. 2019 Jul 1;99(3):1325-1380. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00010.2018. PMID: 30920354; PMCID: PMC6689741.
- Cover H, Irwin M. Immunity and depression: insomnia, retardation, and reduction of natural killer cell activity. J Behav Med. 1994;17(2):217-223. doi:10.1007/BF01858106
- Hall M, Baum A, Buysse DJ, Prigerson HG, Kupfer DJ, Reynolds CF 3rd. Sleep as a mediator of the stress-immune relationship. Psychosom Med. 1998;60(1):48-51. doi:10.1097/00006842-199801000-00011
- Savard J, Laroche L, Simard S, Ivers H, Morin CM. Chronic insomnia and immune functioning. Psychosom Med. 2003;65(2):211-221. doi:10.1097/01.psy.0000033126.22740.f3
- Burgos I, Richter L, Klein T, et al. Increased nocturnal interleukin-6 excretion in patients with primary insomnia: a pilot study. Brain Behav Immun. 2006;20(3):246-253. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2005.06.007
- Vgontzas AN, Zoumakis M, Papanicolaou DA, et al. Chronic insomnia is associated with a shift of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor secretion from nighttime to daytime. Metabolism. 2002;51(7):887-892. doi:10.1053/meta.2002.33357
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121-137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- Irwin MR, Opp MR. Sleep Health: Reciprocal Regulation of Sleep and Innate Immunity. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(1):129-155. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.148. Epub 2016 Aug 11. PMID: 27510422; PMCID: PMC5143488.
- Irwin MR. Why sleep is important for health: a psychoneuroimmunology perspective. Annu Rev Psychol. 2015 Jan 3;66:143-72. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115205. Epub 2014 Jul 21. PMID: 25061767; PMCID: PMC4961463.
- Peever J, Fuller PM. The Biology of REM Sleep. Curr Biol. 2017 Nov 20;27(22):R1237-R1248. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.026. PMID: 29161567.
- Boyce R, Glasgow SD, Williams S, Adamantidis A. Causal evidence for the role of REM sleep theta rhythm in contextual memory consolidation. Science. 2016 May 13;352(6287):812-6. doi: 10.1126/science.aad5252. PMID: 27174984.
- Li W, Ma L, Yang G, Gan WB. REM sleep selectively prunes and maintains new synapses in development and learning. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Mar;20(3):427-437. doi: 10.1038/nn.4479. Epub 2017 Jan 16. PMID: 28092659; PMCID: PMC5535798.
- Wagner U, Gais S, Haider H, Verleger R, Born J. Sleep inspires insight. Nature. 2004 Jan 22;427(6972):352-5. doi: 10.1038/nature02223. PMID: 14737168.
- Morris CJ, Aeschbach D, Scheer FA. Circadian system, sleep and endocrinology. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Feb 5;349(1):91-104. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Sep 10. PMID: 21939733; PMCID: PMC3242827.
- Su L, Zhang SZ, Zhu J, Wu J, Jiao YZ. Effect of partial and total sleep deprivation on serum testosterone in healthy males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med. 2021 Dec;88:267-273. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2021.10.031. Epub 2021 Nov 8. PMID: 34801825.
- Dattilo M, Antunes HK, Medeiros A, Mônico Neto M, Souza HS, Tufik S, de Mello MT. Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Med Hypotheses. 2011 Aug;77(2):220-2. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.04.017. Epub 2011 May 7. PMID: 21550729.
- Lateef OM, Akintubosun MO. Sleep and Reproductive Health. J Circadian Rhythms. 2020 Mar 23;18:1. doi: 10.5334/jcr.190. PMID: 32256630; PMCID: PMC7101004.
- Charest J, Grandner MA. Sleep and Athletic Performance: Impacts on Physical Performance, Mental Performance, Injury Risk and Recovery, and Mental Health. Sleep Med Clin. 2020 Mar;15(1):41-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2019.11.005. PMID: 32005349.
- Dáttilo M, Antunes HKM, Galbes NMN, Mônico-Neto M, DE Sá Souza H, Dos Santos Quaresma MVL, Lee KS, Ugrinowitsch C, Tufik S, DE Mello MT. Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Acute Skeletal Muscle Recovery after Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Feb;52(2):507-514. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002137. PMID: 31469710.
- Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. Int J Sports Med. 2019 Aug;40(8):535-543. doi: 10.1055/a-0905-3103. Epub 2019 Jul 9. PMID: 31288293; PMCID: PMC6988893.
- Al-Khani AM, Sarhandi MI, Zaghloul MS, Ewid M, Saquib N. A cross-sectional survey on sleep quality, mental health, and academic performance among medical students in Saudi Arabia. BMC Res Notes. 2019 Oct 21;12(1):665. doi: 10.1186/s13104-019-4713-2. PMID: 31639038; PMCID: PMC6802108.
- Milojevich HM, Lukowski AF. Sleep and Mental Health in Undergraduate Students with Generally Healthy Sleep Habits. PLoS One. 2016 Jun 9;11(6):e0156372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156372. PMID: 27280714; PMCID: PMC4900547.
- Scott AJ, Webb TL, Martyn-St James M, Rowse G, Weich S. Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2021 Dec;60:101556. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556. Epub 2021 Sep 23. PMID: 34607184; PMCID: PMC8651630.
- Sampasa-Kanyinga H, Colman I, Goldfield GS, Janssen I, Wang J, Podinic I, Tremblay MS, Saunders TJ, Sampson M, Chaput JP. Combinations of physical activity, sedentary time, and sleep duration and their associations with depressive symptoms and other mental health problems in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020 Jun 5;17(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s12966-020-00976-x. PMID: 32503638; PMCID: PMC7273653.
- Ghrouz AK, Noohu MM, Dilshad Manzar M, Warren Spence D, BaHammam AS, Pandi-Perumal SR. Physical activity and sleep quality in relation to mental health among college students. Sleep Breath. 2019 Jun;23(2):627-634. doi: 10.1007/s11325-019-01780-z. Epub 2019 Jan 26. PMID: 30685851.
- Alonzo R, Hussain J, Stranges S, Anderson KK. Interplay between social media use, sleep quality, and mental health in youth: A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2021 Apr;56:101414. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101414. Epub 2020 Dec 10. PMID: 33385767.
- Mathew Walker. Sleep is your superpower. TedTalks. 2019. https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_sleep_is_your_superpower
Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica. Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.
Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection. She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.