Prairie Doc Perspective: Why you should be sleeping more

Jill Kruse, D.O.
The Prairie Doc
Jill Kruse, D.O.

Most people know that getting enough sleep is important for their health, but many do not realize that there are specific health benefits that come from getting a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep can improve your mood, help you maintain a healthy weight, and reduce your risk of chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Sleep can even help boost your immune system and improve memory.

Despite knowing that sleep is important, according to the CDC, one in three adults do not get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation found that almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days each week. Many untreated health conditions can interrupt or affect sleep. Issues from an enlarged prostate, hot flashes from menopause, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and restless legs are just some of the conditions that can keep us from a good night’s rest. A lack of sleep can also affect or worsen depression and anxiety. Unfortunately depression and anxiety can make falling asleep much harder causing a cycle of worsening mood and sleep difficulties.

Weight can also be affected by the lack of sleep due to the hormones that help regulate your appetite and sense of fullness. Lack of sleep increases the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite. Even partial sleep deprivation can increase the body’s resistance to insulin. This can increase blood sugar levels and contribute to the development of diabetes.

Loss of sleep affects the risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure. This is related to the hormone, cortisol which is on a circadian rhythm and increases in the morning hours. Increased cortisol helps to awaken you and peaks about thirty to forty-five minutes after awakening. One study found that there was a 24% increase in heart attacks on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time. This increase is thought to be related to the hour of sleep lost and increased cortisol levels.

Certain immune components work more while you are sleeping to help repair the body and fight infections. Good sleep helps consolidate memories, improves creativity, and can even improve sports performance.

Getting a good night’s rest is not just nice, it is imperative to your body’s health. If you are having trouble sleeping, it is important to talk with your health care provider to see what can be done to help your sleep improve. He or she can also help rule out any underlying health conditions that could be impacting your ability to get the rest your body needs. Count some sheep and get some extra ZZZ’s so you can “stay healthy out there!”

Jill Kruse, D.O. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices as a hospitalist in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at and on Facebook.