Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (2023)

  • There are many benefits of sleep, including muscle recovery, weight management, and immune support.
  • REM, otherwise known as “rapid eye movement,” refers to the fourth stage of sleep when most dreams occur. This last stage of sleep is key in promoting healthy brain function.
  • While studies point to clocking in at least 7 hours of sleep per night to avoid any “adverse health outcomes,” it is even more important to have quality sleep over quantity.

Sleep is one of the pillars of high performance.

Your whole body runs better after a good night’s sleep, and considering that struggles with occasional insomnia are common, it’s worth your time to learn how to improve your sleep so you get the most restorative rest possible.[1] The benefits of sleep include better brain function, muscle recovery, hormone balance, longevity, and fat burning.
“Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life,” reads an article on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute site. “During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.”

Read on to learn the benefits of sleep and how deep sleep upgrades your biology.

Table of Contents

(Video) How lack of sleep affects health and tips for a good night's rest

  • Deep sleep improves brain function
  • Low-quality sleep impairs muscle recovery and fat loss
  • Deep sleep helps you live longer and better
  • Is Beauty Sleep Real?
  • How Much Sleep Is Enough?
  • Proven Ways To Get Better Sleep

Deep sleep improves brain function

Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (1)

Your brain relies on quality sleep to function properly. After mild sleep deprivation (staying up for 19 hours), your reaction time, attention, memory, and mental accuracy are negatively impacted, and your brain performs as if you had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent.[2][3][4] After an all-nighter (24 hours without sleep), you perform like you’re under the influence.[5]

A night of deep sleep, on the other hand, gives your brain a chance to clear out cellular waste and repair old or damaged brain cells.[6] You wake up with a stable mood and an increased ability to learn.[7]

The key is entering into two different stages of sleep: stage 3 and stage 4.[8] Stages 1-3 are considered non-rapid eye movement sleep, while the final stage — stage 4 — is when you reach rapid eye movement (REM). Stage 3, which is considered the deepest non-REM sleep stage, is vital because this is the time “the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.” Stage 4 usually begins 90 minutes after falling asleep. The brain is highly active at this stage; not only does the brain undergo repair and restoration, but it also increases its metabolism.[9]

Low-quality sleep impairs muscle recovery and fat loss

Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (2)

Sleep is also associated with muscle recovery. When you don’t sleep well, your hormones are impacted: Your testosterone and growth hormone levels drop, impairing your protein synthesis, thus limiting the ability to build more muscle.[10] At the same time, your cortisol goes up, promoting fat storage and activating muscle degradation pathways that break down your hard-earned lean mass.[11][12] It’s been said that short periods of sleep deprivation (less than a week) “can compromise glucose metabolism, reduce insulin sensitivity, and impair muscle function.”[13] In short, restricting your body of sleep — even for only a few days — may lay the groundwork for future chronic health issues, including obesity and neuromuscular disease.

(Video) The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep

If you exercise regularly, aim for between seven and nine hours of high-quality sleep a night. Those who get an adequate amount of sleep may experience improved athletic performance and a reduced risk of injury and illness.[14]

Deep sleep helps you live longer and better

Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (3)

Plentiful sleep has a profound effect on longevity, too. A 2014 study that followed two age groups — adults aged 85-105 and adults aged 60-70 — found that the oldest individuals (the 85-105 age group) “maintained strictly regular sleep-wake schedules” when compared to the others.[15]

In general, people who get deep sleep in complete darkness may also have a lower risk of cancer than people who don’t sleep well or sleep with light exposure at night.[16] Researchers suspect this may have something to do with how consistently you produce melatonin, a sleep hormone that you don’t produce as well when you expose yourself to light at night. Light exposure, including blue light from phone screens, has a huge impact on sleep quality, which is why blacking out your room is essential.

Getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night may also increase your risk of heart attack and diabetes, and consistent sleep deprivation (either low-quality sleep or fewer than seven hours a night) may increase your overall risk of death by about 25 percent.[17][18][19]

Is Beauty Sleep Real?

Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (4)

(Video) 8 Benefits of Getting Quality Sleep

The most obvious sign that you’re getting enough sleep every night? Your skin. Beauty sleep is a real thing if you account for the physical traits of those who get quality sleep vs. those who sleep less than six hours per night. Sleep is associated with increased blood flow to the skin, leading to more of a brightened, more “awake” complexion come the morning. No sleep? There’s a higher chance you’ll wake up with puffy eyes or under-eye bags due to leaking blood vessels — something that can be avoided with enough rest and overnight repair.

Something else to consider: The body’s natural collagen production — responsible for smooth, youthful skin — may also drop when there’s lack of adequate sleep.[20]

More Sleep From Bulletproof

What is Yoga Nidra and can it replace a full night’s sleep?Your Guide to Light Therapy for Better Energy, Sleep and MoodHow to Find Your Best Sleep Cycle: Polyphasic, Biphasic and Monophasic SleepStress and Sleeplessness: A Life Coach Unpacks the Issue—And How to Fix It

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The hours of sleep one should get per night is a topic that’s commonly up for debate. While experts have cited seven to nine hours of sleep as the optimal amount for health, it’s become apparent that sleep quality is more important than sleep quantity.[21] In fact, a 2020 study found that low-quality sleep was linked to mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.[22]

Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral researcher in Walker’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at UC Berkeley, summed up how important sleep quality is in relation to overall health: “Previously, the conversation has focused on how many hours you need to sleep. However, you can sleep for a sufficient number of hours, but not obtain the right quality of sleep. We also need to appreciate the importance of sleep quality.”

(Video) Sleep 1: Importance and Benefits of Sleep

Proven Ways To Get Better Sleep

Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest (9)

As previously mentioned, a restful night’s sleep can be achieved through key lifestyle changes, such as limiting phone use before bedtime. Here are other proven ways to get better sleep:

Opt for cooler temperatures

A common reason for “wakefulness” during sleep? Setting your bedroom temperature higher than 65 degrees fahrenheit — the ideal temperature according to many experts.[23]


Practicing mindfulness meditation may have a positive impact on the quality of sleep, as proven in a 2015 study.[24] Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, recommends incorporating 20 minutes of meditation during the day for best results.
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says.

Avoid drinking before bed

Drinking beverages — including alcohol — can derail goals of having a proper night’s sleep. While alcohol can lead to feelings of sleepiness, drinking less than three hours before bed can disrupt your sleep during the night.

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(Video) How Sleep Affects Your Brain
This article was originally published on October 26, 2018 and has been updated with new content.


Why Is Sleep Important? Benefits Of Getting Enough Rest? ›

Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Reduce stress and improve your mood. Think more clearly and do better in school and at work. Get along better with people.

Why is it important to get enough rest and sleep? ›

Good sleep improves your brain performance, mood, and health. Not getting enough quality sleep regularly raises the risk of many diseases and disorders. These range from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia.

Is sleep more important than rest? ›

While quality sleep is critical to feeling whole, rest is so much more than your nightly hours of shut-eye. Rest involves your whole being, not just your body. With complete and regular rest, you will restore your health, enhance your performance and achieve an amazing sense of wellness.

What happens when you don't get enough sleep and rest? ›

But if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death. Even one night of short sleep can affect you the next day.

Why is it important to get enough sleep to reduce stress? ›

Sleep decreases cortisol levels

A lack of sleep can cause the body to react as if it's in distress, releasing more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for your fight or flight reaction to danger, increasing your heart rate in anticipation of a fight.

What are the benefits of resting? ›

Rest is vital for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood and even a better metabolism.

How does sleep affect your health? ›

What health conditions are linked to a lack of sleep? Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression. Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Is sleep one of the most important thing? ›

Sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental functioning the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk. Sleep is truly interdisciplinary because it touches every aspect of health.

How does sleep improve your mood? ›

Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is process your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. When you cut that short, you tend to have more negative emotional reactions and fewer positive ones.

What does sleep do to the brain? ›

Without sleep you can't form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it's harder to concentrate and respond quickly. Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other.

What problems can lack of sleep cause? ›

Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. Sleep deficiency is also linked to a higher chance of injury in adults, teens, and children.

Why does sleep matter? ›

Sleep is an essential and involuntary process, without which we cannot function effectively. It is as essential to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleeping helps to repair and restore our brains, not just our bodies.

What is the most important in sleep? ›

“Many people wake up tired, even with adequate amounts of sleep. This is likely due to insufficient amounts of deep and REM sleep” shares Dr. Ghacibeh. “So while all stages of sleep are essential to overall well-being, deep sleep is considered the most important stage.”

Why is rest important? ›

Rest reduces stress, gives you the opportunity to be more active, works against the many detriments of a sedentary lifestyle, and boosts your immune system. It enhances your sleep quality and can according to some studies even add years to your life.

Is having enough rest and sleep needed to stay mentally healthy? ›

Sleep and mental health go hand-in-hand. Good sleep is essential for maintaining our baseline mental health, as one night of sleep deprivation can dramatically affect mood the next day. Chronic exposure to poor sleep quality is associated with depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

How important is rest time? ›

Adequate rest between sets helps to maintain a high level of force production for the next set. Thus, typical rest periods for increasing strength are between 2–5 minutes, which research shows to be optimal for strength development.

Why is rest important for the brain? ›

Without sleep you can't form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it's harder to concentrate and respond quickly. Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other.

Do you feel better if you sleep enough? ›

Getting enough sleep at night gives your body plenty of energy during the day, but sleep deprivation affects so much more than just your energy level. Sleep helps you feel better – If you sleep for a full eight hours (or more) each night, your body will run more smoothly from head to toe.

Does getting enough sleep make you happier? ›

The Takeaway. Sleep and mood are closely connected; poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, while healthy sleep can enhance well-being. Chronic insomnia may increase the risk of developing a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression.


1. Why is sleep important? - Wellbeing video
(Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust)
2. One more reason to get a good night’s sleep | Jeff Iliff
3. Good Health: The unseen benefits of getting more sleep
(Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV)
4. The brain benefits of deep sleep -- and how to get more of it | Dan Gartenberg
5. The benefits of a good night's sleep - Shai Marcu
6. Why Do We Need Sleep?
(SciShow Kids)
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