Why is sleep important?

A good night’s sleep is important for good health

Sleep is as essential to our bodies and minds as any other physiological function—like eating or drinking water. It isn’t a luxury—it’s an absolute necessity for our mental, emotional, and physical health. When we don’t sleep well, every part of our lives can be affected—our relationships, our performance at school or on the job, our appetite and our energy levels. Lost hours of sleep do take their toll.

Think about all of the things you do during the day…work, school, family time, exercise, errands, housework. Do you think of sleep as a complete end to activity? You might be surprised. Some parts of our brains do increase their activity quite significantly…while you are sleeping.

woman meditating

Here’s what’s happening while we’re under the covers:

  • In children, growth hormones are released, which is important to proper physical development.
  • Tissue growth and repair take place.
  • Our brain encodes and stores new information, organizes memories, and solves problems.
  • Our neurons are “turned off” allowing for sharper motor skills and reaction times the next day.
  • Our cardiovascular system gets a rest; sleep reduces blood pressure and heart rate by about 10%.
  • Our body creates cellular hormones that help the immune system fight various infections.
  • Sleep helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Our rate of metabolism is reduced, and our energy is conserved.

Sleepy or fatigued—which are you?
Knowing the answer helps in the diagnosis of sleep disorders


Signs of sleepiness

  • Daytime yawning
  • Fighting to keep your eyes open while sitting
  • Head nodding
  • Can nap easily

Signs of fatigue

  • Little energy
  • Too tired to exercise or finish a task
  • Difficulty falling asleep despite exhaustion
  • Feeling just as tired in the morning as you did last night