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The Science of Sleep: Why Sleeping Matters

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Nov 20, 2022

The Science of Sleep: Why Sleeping Matters

A good night’s rest can determine whether or not we’re our best self the very next day. When we get enough rest, we feel more productive. But, when we toss and turn the entire night, we often feel tired and cranky the next day. What are the reasons why sleep is important?

It’s undeniable that sleep plays a big role in a person’s life.. However, data has shown that an estimated 30% to 45% of adults suffer from insomnia. “Importance of sleep” essays also emphasize that some habits like the use of cellphones and other gadgets also compel people to get less sleep than what they actually need.

Why do people need sleep in the first place? Is it simply a period of time when the body completely shuts down, or is there more to sleep than most people realize? Understanding how getting enough sleep can positively impact our health can be the first step to improving our overall well-being. 

What are the Top Reasons Why Sleep is Important?

Sleep Improves Memory and Your Ability To Learn

One of the reasons why sleep is important is because it can boost learning and memory. Studies have shown that sleep plays an important role in memory, which directly affects a person’s ability to learn. This completely debunks the myth that nothing happens to the body when you’re at rest. On the contrary, the brain goes through different activities during the period when you’re asleep.

Sleep can be categorized into two types, namely: 

  1. Quiet sleep or non-REM sleep.
  2. Dreaming sleep or REM sleep. 

Quiet sleep, or non-REM sleep is when a person’s brain goes through the process of organizing newly-acquired memories for long-term storage. Since the brain cycles between different stages of sleep throughout the night, not getting enough sleep means less time for consolidation. 

One study proved that students who slept between lectures did better on a test, compared to those who didn’t. If you’re a student who has a habit of staying up all night before a big test then you might perform better if you used that time to sleep instead. 

Sleep Regulates Your Appetite

One of the reason why sleep is important is because of how it regulates appetite and affects metabolism. This is part of the many reasons why sleep is important. There are two hormones that affect our hunger namely:

  1. Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, and brain. It is often referred to as the “hunger hormone,” because of its primary function which is to stimulate your appetite.
  2. Leptin is a hormone mainly produced by fat cells. This hormone is referred to as the “satiety hormone” because of how it inhibits hunger. Leptin also maintains body weight.

When you don’t get enough sleep, the amount of ghrelin increases which can stimulate appetite. This is why sleep deprivation puts you at risk of becoming obese or overweight. 

Data also shows that those suffering from sleep problems like sleep apnea are more prone to becoming obese because of the lack of activity that results from not having enough energy to exercise or engage in physical activity. 

Hence, if you’re trying to stay in shape or trying to lose weight then make sure to incorporate healthy sleeping habits in your diet plan. 

Sleep Makes Your Skin Healthier

Sleep also plays an important role in the appearance of the skin. If you’ve ever felt lousy after a night of not getting enough rest, then chances are your skin will feel the same way. Lack of sleep encourages the body to produce cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone.

High cortisol levels can have negative impacts on the appearance of your skin. If you have a habit of skimping on sleep then you’ll be more prone to developing skin conditions like excessive dryness, acne or eczema. 

One of the benefits of sleep for skin is that it gets rid of any excess fluids from the body. This means that getting enough sleep will prevent the accumulation of fluid on your face that can lead to undereye bags. 

Following a skincare routine before going to bed can also maximize the effects of a good rest on your skin. Make sure to do the following before going to bed:

  1. Wash your face.
  2. Apply a moisturizer of choice.
  3. Don’t go straight to bed after applying products, give them time to seep into your skin.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep over long periods of time, or even missing just a few hours the previous night could lead to dire consequences on your health and safety. 

  1. Mental illness. Sleep deprivation long periods of time could make you more at risk of developing anxiety or depression.
  2. Life-threatening accidents. Plenty of car crashes happen because of the driver falling asleep at the wheel. Not getting enough sleep can make you less alert, and more prone to getting into accidents.
  3. Cardiovascular diseases. Disruptions in sleep patterns can lead to malfunctions in the body, that can lead to conditions affecting the heart or circulatory system.

How To Get Better Sleep

In order to reap the benefits of sleeping early, one must learn how to maintain good sleeping habits. For some people, going to sleep is as easy as closing their eyes. However, if you’ve ever experienced difficulties going to sleep then here are a few things you can do that may help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer:

  1. Set-up a relaxing routine 30 minutes before your scheduled bed time. Activities like reading a book, knitting, or meditating are just a few examples of relaxing activities that can help you wind-down before bed time.
  2. Avoid using gadgets before sleeping or when you’re in bed. Light from cell phones, TV’s, and other devices can stimulate the brain and make you feel restless or more awake. 
  3. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time. Doing this regulates your body clock and makes it easier to fall asleep.

Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being because of the many positive impacts it has on important functions in our bodies. If you’re suffering from sleep disorders and want to learn more about your options for treatment, it’s always best to seek the advice of a health professional.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Tracey Romero · Updated Nov 20, 2022

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