Sleep: Why It’s The Most Important Factor For Health

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Unpopular opinion: Good quality sleep is as important as--if not more important than--proper nutrition and exercise. Read on for the seemingly never-ending benefits.

In This Article

It’s time to get the phrase “sleep is for the weak” out of your vocabulary. Sleep is for the strong, and sufficient good quality sleep yields just as many health benefits as proper nutrition and exercise…perhaps more!

The Importance of Sleep for Health

Sleep is arguably the most underrated healthy habit. Amidst the hustle culture of the ‘do more, be more’ mentality, our nightly zzz’s get sidelined while our waking life takes priority to the point that, according to the World Health Organization, sleep deprivation has become a modern day epidemic.

According to Matthew Walker, neuroscientist, sleep expert and author of ‘Why We Sleep’, up to two thirds of the population is chronically sleep deprived.

And over 80% of people trying to pay off their ‘sleeping debt’ by resting extra hours during weekends and holidays.

But What Exactly Is Sleep?

It may sound silly now, but people once believed that sleeping was simply done to “cure sleepiness.”

As Mathew Walker likened, that’s like saying we eat only to cure hunger.

The truth is, sleep is so much more. Just as food nourishes and heals, so does sleep!

Humans are designed to rest each day for good reason. Sleep is the essential time our body needs to heal itself from the wear and tear of daily life.

While sleeping, our body goes on autopilot and almost like magic, restores our mind and body. There are beautifully complex processes that happen which result in the following health benefits (to name a few!):

  • Hormonal balance
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Strengthened immune response and disease prevention
  • Memory consolidation
  • Detoxification
  • Mental clarification
  • Mood stabilization
  • Anti-aging
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved physical performance
  • Weight control

Sleepiness: A modern Day Epidemic

Unfortunately, modern lifestyles have compounded our already challenging sleep issues. Things such as anxiety, depression and alcoholism have been exacerbated with technology through mindless scrolling, late-night binge watching, and exposure to melatonin-suppressing “blue light”.

Culturally as well, there is often a misplaced value on your level of daily productivity at the expense of your nightly rest (hello #TeamNoSleep).

This is a problem because even just 1 night of sleep deprivation has causal links to many diseases, such as impaired mental ability, depression, alzheimers, hormone imbalance, unstable moods, diabetes, heart disease, accelerated aging and weight gain.

So imagine the effects on society when the majority of the population is chronically sleep deprived!

If sleep has never been a priority for you, you may want to reconsider, as it’s not just your energy that’s suffering, but your long term health too.

Nourish Yourself For Better Sleep

Take Magnesium: Magnesium is a wonderful mineral that is responsible for hundreds of biological processes in your body, one of which is relaxing tense muscles and helping to alleviate mild depression and anxiety. Magnesium’s non-sedating yet relaxing effect on the body makes it an ideal nighttime mineral to help you fall into ultra-restoring deep rest.

Magnesium is easy enough to come by and can be found in many plant-based food sources such as avocados, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Get your GABA: GABA, or Gamma aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid and a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter. This wonderful substance is responsible for giving you that calm and centered feeling. It decreases the activity of your nervous system making it an ideal substance to help lull your mind and body into a more zen-like state that’s more conducive to quality zzz’s.

As a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, your body releases GABA with meditation. You can also find it in supplement form, as well fermented plant-based foods such as miso and sauerkraut.

Like with any healthy habit, having a good night’s rest takes intention, consistency, and finding the right combination of things that work for you.

We know how challenging it can be to establish new habits alone, which is why we want to invite you to join the Your Best Sleep Ever Summit!

Click here to see how you can have the best sleep of your life!

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Visit veganrecipes.com for amazing vegan recipes, and don’t forget to sign up for VegHealth to get more beneficial vegan knowledge. 

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We chose people who were experts about the lessons they wrote, even if they didn't agree with our other contributors on every point. For example, some of our contributors eat mostly raw foods while others eat mostly macrobiotic. Some shun oil while others stir fry their vegetables. As a result, none of our contributors has endorsed all of the lessons written by other experts.