If you’ve ever suffered from sleep problems you’ll understand just how difficult daily life can be when you haven’t had the best night’s sleep. In a study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 34.8 percent of American adults get less than the recommended minimum - seven hours per night. Unbelievably this means that more than a third of us are sleep deprived.

The real worry though, is how this could be affecting not only their physical health, but their mental health as well. So we’re looking at the benefits of improving your sleep quality and why you should do everything you can to get your seven hours in.

1. You’ll feel more energetic

There’s no getting away from it, after a good night’s sleep you wake up feeling refreshed, restored and ready to face the day.

One possible explanation is that the hormone adenosine, a by-product of the brain cells’ activities, builds up over the course of the day. High levels of this make us feel tired and ready for bed. While we sleep the body ‘clears out‘ this accumulated adenosine which means we feel much more alert and full of energy when we wake.

2. Great sleep improves your memory and concentration

Anyone who has ever tried to sleep in a house with a small baby in it will know the all-encompassing brain fog that takes over when you’re suffering from severe lack of sleep. But this impaired ability to concentrate can have really serious consequences, causing you to make mistakes when driving and misjudge even the simplest decisions.

Many experiments have tested people’s focus and reactions when they’re tired, and all have shown the same poor results. This just goes to show that quality sleep is important if you want a clear head in the morning.

3. Sleep helps your body stay healthy

It has long been known that much of children’s growing is done while they sleep, making it vital for them to get enough ZZZs. So it stands to reason that our bodies continue to work hard while we sleep even when they’re grown up. In fact, many of the body’s restorative functions like tissue repair, protein synthesis, production of white blood cells, and the release of some hormones occur during sleep.

This means ongoing sleep problems can lead to a compromised immune system and potentially chronic illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart conditions.

4. Quality sleep might help you lose weight

It’s thought that if you don’t get enough good quality sleep your metabolism won’t function properly. When you are sleep-deprived it affects your appetite hormones, making you more likely to feel hungry and less likely to feel full. You can also be more likely to crave sweet things – perhaps to make up for the lack of energy you feel. Combine this with reduced willpower and it’s a recipe for diet disaster.

5. You’ll feel happier and less irritable

Just as kids get cranky when they’re feeling tired, so do we. It’s no secret that most people have a cheerier outlook on life and are generally more pleasant to be around when they’ve had enough sleep. And if happiness isn’t a reason to improve your sleep quality, we don’t know what is!

6. Great sleep leads to higher fitness levels

Did you know, sleep can build muscle mass and enhance muscle recovery through protein synthesis? That means that when you’ve worked out in the day your muscles actually get stronger while you sleep.

It’s true – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine proved it with a sample of college basketball players. They found that when they increased the amount of sleep the players were getting, all aspects of their athletic performance improved, from speed to reaction time to stamina.

All of this means that if you’re serious about improving your performance levels you should prioritize getting the best night’s sleep you can.

7. You look better after a good night’s sleep

If you've ever looked in the mirror after a bad night's sleep you'll have seen sallow skin, greasy hair and bags under your eyes. And you'll probably see the first signs of a break out too. Just like the rest of our body, our skin, hair and eyes benefit from the regenerative effects of really great sleep.

Sleep problems can make you feel miserable, but more than that long-term, they can have a serious effect on your health. By aiming to sleep for at least the minimum recommendation of 7 hours every night you can make sure you reap the benefits.

For more information to help improve your sleep quality, visit our Sleep Advice Hub.