The importance of a good night’s sleep

By Dr Sivuyile Madikana (Herbalife NAB Southern Africa)


Good sleep is as important for your health as eating a balanced nutritious diet and exercise! Although it may vary from person to person, adults require at least 7 – 9 hours of quality per night. Sleep regulates your mood; it improves brain performance and overall health. Sometimes the fast pace of life doesn’t allow us enough time to rest and get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Over time this may affect you negatively, compromising good health and overall well-being.

Good quality sleep is critical for the body’s function across a range of organs and this encompasses three main components, the number of hours spent sleeping, the quality of sleep, and a consistent sleeping schedule. There are a number of benefits to getting good quality sleep and below, I highlight 5 of the crucial ones:   

Concentration and productivity – good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory and performance in both children and adults. A study conducted with overworked Doctors found clinically significant medical errors reported by those who had varying degrees of sleep impairment. Good sleep helps the brain to prepare, remember, and create.  Immune system function – Everything from blood vessels to the immune system uses sleep as a time for repair. There are certain repair processes that occur in the body mostly, or most effectively, during sleep. Some data also suggests that proper sleep may improve your body’s antibody responses to influenza vaccines. 

Metabolism and diabetes risk – a few studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation is linked to the inability to control blood sugar levels and a propensity for weight gain. This is linked to physiological changes like decreased sensitivity to insulin, inflammation (by activating the inflammatory signal pathways in the body), changes in the hunger hormone, and greater food intake. All these factors increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.  

Mental well-being – good sleep has been linked with better mental well-being outcomes. Studies have shown people with sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea (which is a condition where the person experiences interrupted breathing during sleep) or insomnia reported higher rates of depression than those that didn’t. 

Heart health – the heart, a part of the cardiovascular system, is profoundly affected by the sleep you experience. Short sleep appears to increase the risk of high blood pressure, especially in people with obstructive sleep apnea. Another analysis of 19 studies found that sleeping less than 7 hours results in an increased risk of heart disease.   As demonstrated, sleep is critical in our daily function. Good sleep not only refers to the number of hours we stay in bed but the quality of sleep we receive. This goes a long way in helping our bodies repair our most critical functions, so we can live healthier, more fulfilled, and holistic lives.