The Health Benefits of a Better Night’s Sleep

The Health Benefits of a Better Night’s Sleep

Most of us wish we could get more sleep. Whether your busy lifestyle is getting in the way or you struggle with insomnia, sleep deprivation is all too common these days. We all know that a good night’s sleep makes you feel good, but very few of us are aware of all the wonderful health benefits sleep actually provides. These are all the reasons why we need to make more time for sleep, and a few ideas on how to sleep better.

Improved Mood and Less Stress

We don’t need studies to confirm that when we are sleep deprived, we feel more irritable, sad and stressed. On top of the obvious effects on our mood, a lack of sleep puts your body into a state where it increases the production of stress hormones, particularly cortisol. These hormones exacerbate angina and high blood pressure, all contributing factors of heart disease. Unfortunately, as most of us know, stress can develop into a vicious cycle where our mood is affected because we’re sleep deprived, but we become unable to sleep because the anxiety and stress we feel makes our body more awake and alert. Often this degree of insomnia needs to be combated by facing the issues that are contributing to our stress (other than a lack of sleep). Sometimes the old remedy of writing down what’s bothering you or discussing it with a friend or family member can help. A problem shared is a problem halved. Top Tip: Dedicate some time to an activity that makes you feel less anxious during the evening and then begin your bedtime ritual. The idea is to relax the nervous system and stick to the routine every night; this will let your body know that it is closing down for the day. Find what works for you. It may be a warm milk drink, a cup of herbal tea or a relaxing bubble bath. Think of yourself as a child that you’re training into healthy sleep patterns. An early dinner, lowered lights, limited screen use (at least for the last 30 minutes before going to bed), it’s all the same.



Efficient Learning and Better Memory

Your brain is incredibly busy while you sleep, processing and consolidating memories collected during the day. There are three steps to memory: acquisition, consolidation and recall. Acquisition and recall occur when we are awake, but if you’re sleep deprived, you’re unable to focus optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Memory consolidation takes place while we sleep, so if we don’t get enough shut eye, our memories may not be as clear.


Better Weight Control

New research supports a good night’s sleep for better weight control. Healthy sleep patterns balance the hormones responsible for food cravings, overeating and fat metabolism.

Even losing just one hour of sleep will reduce melatonin (which speeds up metabolism), stimulate cortisol production (which slows down metabolism), decrease leptin (which helps you feel full) and increases ghrelin (which makes you feel hungry).


Stronger Immunity

Sleep helps to keep your immune system strong, regulating immune cell functions and antibodies that help the body fight off bacteria and viruses. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, making you more likely to catch an infection such as the common cold or flu.

Top Tip: One of the best ways to recover from a cold or the flu is to listen to your body and rest up. Don’t try to soldier on.

Beautiful Skin

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Lack of sleep (over time) contributes to dark circles, bags under the eyes and can even make your skin look dull. Your body needs plenty of sleep to allow it to repair and replenish all of your cells, particularly your skin cells.


Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is often the cause of pain, and sleep deprivation increases inflammation. Research shows that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood.

How to Get a Better Sleep

Simple alterations to your lifestyle can make a world of difference when it comes to getting more sleep. Eating regularly, exercising often and using stress management techniques, such as deep breathing are all things you can do to combat sleep deprivation.

Insomnia or a general lack of sleep can come down to diet a lot of the time. Avoiding alcohol, caffeinated drinks or foods, and refined carbohydrates and sugar can help with the lows and peaks of fluctuating blood sugar levels and the additional strain on the adrenal glands. On the flip side, increasing your intake of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and good quality protein will give your body all the nutrients it needs to function optimally. For some people, having a light snack before bed time is great if you suffer from low blood sugar levels during the night.


Some sleep disorders may require more than a lifestyle change. Magnesium is a supplement often recommended because it relaxes the nervous system and is required to convert tryptophan into serotonin (the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter).

There are also a lot of natural sleep remedies available. Nature provides herbs that help relax the body and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. These include Valerian, Passion flower, Chamomile, Panax notoginseng, Zizyphus and California Poppy.

Good Health’s Deep Sleep Night Cap combines calming herbs with malt, butterscotch and vanilla in a gentle (and delicious) drink to help relax the mind and body.

Good Health’s Deep Sleep contains a plant derived extract of 5HTP, improving the quality of sleep by increasing REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and deep sleep. 

Good Health’s Fast Asleep assists stress management and supports healthy sleep patterns including falling asleep, staying asleep and quality sleep. B Stress Free also helps to support the body’s response to stress.

It’s easy to move sleep down the ladder of priorities when we’re busy, but you’re no good to anyone when you’re sleep deprived. Look after yourself and make time for a bedtime routine that works for you as well as a good night’s sleep. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel with a little extra shut-eye.

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Not all products recommended may be available in South Africa at this time