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Physical, Mental and Immune Benefits of Getting Good Sleep


Reviewed by Leigh Ann Scott, MD of Forum Health Las Colinas

The Benefits of good sleep are many and usually include improvements in:

  • Memory and Creativity
  • Physical fitness
  • Immune System
  • Vitality- better tissue repair and good hair, skin, and nails
  • Stress management
  • Emotional stability
  • Risk reduction of hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and death
  • Metabolism and weight management
  • Reduction of obesity and diabetes
  • Risk reduction of dementia and Alzheimer’s

Refreshing sleep has a fascinating effect on memory! Slow-wave, deep sleep helps the brain strengthen memory and consolidate information from the day, like a computer backing up your files. For example, sleeping 8 hours with 60-90 minutes of deep sleep improves retention of facts by 20-40%.


REM sleep (which is another deep phase of sleep where you do your dreaming) helps the brain with creativity. REM sleep seems to be when mental connections are made, and information is synthesized in new and interesting ways. Hence, the saying, “It came to me in my sleep.” Stephen King wrote the book, Misery after waking from a dream (REM sleep.) Paul McCartney says that the song “Yesterday” came to him in a dream.


The benefits of good sleep include helping you stay more physically fit. In 2002, Stanford University performed a study on the University’s swim team and basketball team members. The study involved both groups of athletes getting 10 hours of sleep each night for several weeks. As a result, swim times improved, and basketball players ran faster sprints and shot more accurately. Researchers repeated the study with similar results of increased peak performance with runners, cyclists, and tennis players.


Sleep boosts your immune system. Neurons controlling sleep in the brain are in constant conversation with hormones and neurotransmitters when you are sleeping. This activity helps form cytokines that fight infection and inflammation. Cytokines go on to produce natural killer cells which are also good for our immune systems.


Deep sleep helps your body produce and regulate hormones, like growth hormone, which is necessary for good hair, skin, nails, and healthy tissue repair. Growth hormone and other hormones like DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen all help us feel younger and have better vitality. Suzanne Somers says, “hormones are the juice of youth.”


 The production of hormones also helps keep your emotions in check. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are necessary to prevent anxiety and depression. Therefore, sleep helps ease stress and reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart attack risk goes down by 21% in the United States when we gain an hour of sleep in the fall with daylight savings time.


Sleep helps keep ghrelin production low, the hormone that makes you hungry. Sleep also assists with leptin production, which is the hormone that helps you feel full, so weight and metabolism are more stable, reducing the risks of obesity and diabetes. In addition, during sleep, fluids flow through the brain, washing away toxins to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.


Too much sleep does not seem to hurt the body at all. Some think alcohol can help with sleep. It makes you drowsy, but alcohol also decreases the important stages of deep, slow-wave, and REM sleep, reducing your sleep quality overall.


For more information on the benefits of good sleep, this article may also be of interest.

Could you use some of the Benefits of Good Sleep?

If you have been experiencing problems with getting good sleep and have not resolved them, a functional medicine approach may help. Our providers can help you get to the bottom of what is causing your sleep troubles and resolve these. Good sleep makes a huge difference in your health and well being and addressing this can improve your quality of life.

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