- Less pain. If you have chronic pain -- or acute pain from a recent injury -- getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold. Unfortunately, being in pain can make it hard to sleep.
Researchers have found that getting good sleep can supplement medication for pain. If pain is keeping you up at night, there are also medications available that combine a pain reliever with a sleep aid.
2. Lower risk of injury. Sleeping enough might actually keep you safer. Sleep deprivation has been linked with many notorious disasters. The Institute of Medicine estimates that one out of five auto accidents results from drowsy driving, that's about 1 million crashes a year.
Of course, any kind of accident is more likely when you're exhausted. When you're overtired, you're more likely to trip, or fall off a ladder, or cut yourself while chopping vegetables. Household accidents like that can have serious consequences.
3. Better weight control. Getting enough sleep could help you maintain your weight and conversely, sleep loss goes along with an increased risk of weight gain. Why? Part of the problem is behavioral. If you're overtired, you might be less likely to have the energy to go for that jog or cook a healthy dinner after work.
The other part is physiological. The hormone leptin plays a key role in making you feel full. When you don't get enough sleep, leptin levels drop. Result: people who are tired are just plain hungrier, and they seem to crave high-fat and high-calorie foods specifically.
4. Clearer thinking. Have you ever woken up after a bad night's sleep, feeling fuzzy and easily confused, like your brain can't get out of first gear?
Sleep loss affects how you think. It impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making. Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they're well-rested.
5. Better memory. Feeling forgetful? Sleep loss could be to blame. Studies have shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day. If you don't get enough sleep, it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly and can be lost.
What's more, some research suggests that sleep decreases the chances of developing false memories. In several experiments, people were asked to look over a series of words. Later they were tested on what they remembered. People who didn't sleep in between were much more likely to "remember" a word that they hadn't actually seen before.