Physical Health And Sleep

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

Read more
Last Updated On August 22nd, 2023
Physical Health And Sleep

How well you sleep can have a significant impact on your physical health as well as mental health. We will discuss the connection between physical health and sleep and what you can do to get a good night’s sleep. We will also touch on the toll lack of sleep can have on your mental health. Mental health decline can also lead to further physical health decline.

Many factors can contribute to poor sleep, including stress, anxiety, and depression. If you are having trouble sleeping, you must talk to your doctor about possible underlying causes.

Save $450 On Any Mattress

Plus free shipping

Get $450 OFF Mattresses

Sleep deprivation can lead to several health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. If you are not getting enough sleep, you must make changes to your lifestyle and bedtime routine.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Many people think they are getting enough time to sleep. However, people also tend to overestimate how much sleep they need for optimal physical and mental health. If you feel you may be under-sleeping for your current needs, connect with a qualified professional.

Adults should be sleeping up to 7 to 9 hours a night. In America, a recent survey found that only 32 percent of individuals report getting excellent sleep. A slightly older survey from 2020 found that 14.5 percent of adults Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source struggle with sleep on a near nightly basis. Sleep-related disorders are estimated to affect Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Benefits of Sleep for Your Body

When you spend a night tossing and turning, your mind knows you’ll start feeling fatigued and unmotivated the next morning. Sleep loss has long-term consequences that can be deadly. This affects your mental health and physical health. Science has compared poor sleep to several problems, such as weight gain and weak immune systems.

So turning that around, you can see how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. There are a few things you can do to promote better sleep:

If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. They can help you identify underlying causes and develop a treatment plan. Getting enough rest is essential for your physical health, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Now, let’s look at the ways that sleep impacts your mental and physical health.

Reduces the Impact of Anxiety

Anxiety is one major cause of health problems in the United States and affects about 20% of the population. Like many mental illnesses, and anxiety disorder makes sleeping difficult. Physical stressor symptoms are associated with anxiety can inhibit sleep.

Sleep-deprived individuals can face anxiety and arouse stress. Studies show common treatments for anxiety, including cognitive behavioral therapy, a more balanced diet, plenty of vegetables, and improved fitness activity, can help alleviate sleeping problems. Even low-impact exercises have been reported to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.

Helps with Weight Loss

Exhaustion from not sleeping properly during the night can increase the chance of obesity and weight gain. Those looking for weight gain should consider sleep as part of their diet to prevent weight gain and improve physical health. Sleep disturbances affect many hormones, including the specific ones that have direct links to hunger.

Helps Improve Memory and Learning

Sleep plays a crucial role in learning and memory consolidation. During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates information obtained during the day, making it easier to remember and recall later. In fact, research has shown that lack of sleep can impair cognitive functioning and negatively impact memory retention.

During the sleep cycle, the brain goes through various stages of activity, including slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These stages are important for different aspects of memory consolidation. Slow-wave sleep, for instance, is crucial for the consolidation of declarative memory, which includes facts and events. Meanwhile, REM sleep is essential for the consolidation of procedural memory, which involves skills and habits.

Overall, getting enough sleep is essential for optimal cognitive functioning and memory retention. Sleep allows the brain to consolidate memories and integrate new information, improving our ability to learn and remember. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize getting adequate sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Improves Performance and Productivity

Lack of sleep may cause you to get tired, forget, and be lethargic. Sleep impairments can inhibit performance and reduce performance at work and your performance. A good amount of sleep makes working more comfortable and allows empathetic response quicker. When you feel exhausted, there’s less chance that you will feel motivated to work. Sleep also reduces stress and helps increase the capacity to regulate emotions.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is essential for maintaining good physical health, as it plays a vital role in several bodily functions. During sleep, the body undergoes a process of repair and restoration, which helps to maintain healthy immune function, regulate hormone levels, and repair damaged cells and tissues. However, when we don’t get enough sleep, this restorative process is disrupted, leading to a range of negative health effects.

Losing sleep reduces the capacity of our cells to fight infection and viruses and may cause more serious health complications, such as diabetes and heart disease. When you become exhausted, it releases more cortisol, a hormone that influences the effects of stress. Cortisol, the protein that makes skin smooth and elastic, may be broken down in excess.

After a few nights of not sleeping, most people feel sallow complexion and swollen eyes. However, it has been shown that prolonged sleep deprivation can result in dull skin, fine wrinkles, and dark bags under the eyes. Cautious sleepers may want to supplement good sleep with a nighttime skin routine.

Sleep deprivation also causes the body to produce insufficient human growth hormones. Human growth hormone encourages development while we are young. It helps grow muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones as we age.

Not getting the right amount of sleep can lead to several physical ailments, including:

  • High blood pressure: Your blood pressure drops during typical sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood pressure rises for a more extended amount of time. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure affects around 75 million Americans or one in every three individuals.
  • Heart attack: Sleep helps the body relax and recover, and it is essential for all mental and physical health areas. Lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attacks, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Heart failure: This can occur dozens, if not hundreds, of times per night. During these periods, your brain also releases stress chemicals. They can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your chances of developing or worsening heart failure.
  • Irregular heartbeat: Poor sleep, or unexpected awakenings, can cause a significant increase in heart rate. According to research, those who have trouble sleeping are more likely to have an irregular heartbeat. For these reasons, sleep deprivation may be linked to heart palpitations.
  • High blood pressure: People who sleep for six hours or fewer may experience greater blood pressure rises. If you already have high blood pressure, not getting enough sleep may make it worse. Sleep is known to assist your body balance chemicals that are needed to regulate stress and metabolism.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes will be more challenging to manage if you sleep less than 7 hours every night regularly. Inadequate sleep can cause insulin resistance. Make you feel hungry the next day and less full after eating.
  • Cancer: Research also suggests reduced sleep time increases the risk of some cancers. Verified Source Johns Hopkins Medicine University focused on medical research that produces thoroughly reviewed health articles. View source
  • Chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation can cause cardiovascular disease or cancer and many more serious illnesses. A 2010 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source  has revealed that sleeping poorly increases their risk of developing chronic inflammation. Inflammation can be associated with a variety of other problems.

Aside from these concerns, there’s also the increased risk of accidents and overall mortality.

Drowsiness-Caused Accidents

Sleep deprivation was a component in some of the worst disasters in recent history, including the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear meltdown, and others.

However, sleep deprivation is a significant public safety risk on the road every day. Drowsiness can reduce response time just as much as drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Council, lack of sleep contributes to 100,000 car accidents and 1,550 crash-related fatalities in the United States each year. The issue is most severe among those under the age of 25.

Research suggests that sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality contribute to workplace accidents and injuries. According to one study, workers who sleep less than five hours had considerably more work accidents.

Increased Risk of Death

The Whitehall II Study Verified Source Oxford Academic Research journal published by Oxford University. View source  examined how sleep patterns influenced the death of more than 10,000 British public officials over a two-decade period. The findings, published in 2005, revealed that people who reduced their sleep from seven to five hours or less per night substantially quadrupled their chance of mortality from any cause. Sleep deprivation, in particular, increases the likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease.

How to Combat Poor Sleep Habits

Good sleep habits (also known as “sleep hygiene“) can help you achieve a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and behaviors that impact sleep quality and duration. It includes your morning and night sleep routine, the diet you take, your activities, and other daily activities.

You should consult a licensed medical practitioner if you have suffered from sleep deficiency for a long time. Physicians may give helpful advice on sleep hygiene, and they can also conduct tests such as a home sleep study to see if the sleep disorder exists.

Some practices that might help you sleep better:

  • Maintain consistency: Put yourself to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, including on weekends. This maintains a consistent sleep schedule and lets you feel sleepy at bedtime easier.
  • Prep your bedroom: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and peaceful, as well as at a suitable temperature for sleep.
  • Remove electronic gadgets: Remove devices from the bedroom, such as TVs, laptops, and smart phones.
  • Watch what you eat: Avoid heavy meals and caffeine before night.
  • Get some physical activity: Regular exercise during the day might assist you in falling asleep more readily at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does sleep affect your physical health?

Sleep plays a vital role in your physical health. During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates cells, strengthens your immune system, and allows your muscles and tissues to rest and recover. Lack of sleep has also been linked to several health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a weakened immune system.

What are the physical benefits of sleep?

There are several physical benefits of sleep. It helps to improve memory and cognitive function, promotes healthy weight management, lowers stress levels, and reduces the risk of developing chronic health conditions. Additionally, getting enough sleep can boost energy levels, improve athletic performance, and enhance overall physical well-being.

How is sleep needed for mental health?

Sleep is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Lack of sleep can contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Getting enough sleep can improve mood, increase resilience to stress, and enhance emotional regulation. It can also improve cognitive function, including attention, decision-making, and problem-solving.

How many hours of sleep are needed for good physical health?

The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on age and individual needs. On average, adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, while children and teenagers require more sleep. However, the optimal amount of sleep can vary between individuals, and it’s important to listen to your body and prioritize getting enough sleep for your own needs.

Can you get too much sleep?

While getting enough sleep is essential for good health, getting too much sleep can also be detrimental. Oversleeping has been linked to several health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and depression. Additionally, excessive sleeping can leave you feeling groggy and fatigued, which can negatively impact your daily functioning. It’s important to find a healthy balance and listen to your body’s natural sleep cues.


Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can lead to several health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Lack of sleep can also weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

Sleep also impacts mental health, reducing the impact of anxiety, helping with weight loss, improving memory and learning, and enhancing performance and productivity. Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, including dull skin, fine wrinkles, and dark bags under the eyes.

Adults should aim to sleep between 7 to 9 hours a night. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, regular exercise, and avoiding caffeine and electronic devices before bed can help promote better sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about possible underlying causes.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

View all posts

Discover the ultimate sleep system

Choose your mattress

Shop top-rated mattresses with proven sleep-boosting materials.

Get a pillow

We have the perfect pillow to pair with your mattress.

Browse Pillows

Pick out bedding

Bring out the best in your mattress with our soft and breathable bedding.

Browse Bedding