Clinical Mental Health

Why Should We Sleep Every Night?

By Mohamed Ahmed Abu Elainein

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human life, often underestimated in its profound impact on our health and well-being.

In the midst of exams and busy schedules, the temptation to sacrifice sleep for extended work hours may arise, but understanding the inherent benefits of sleep is crucial to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults should aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. [1]

This guideline is not arbitrary; it is rooted in extensive research that highlights the multifaceted advantages of adequate sleep.

Sleep serves as more than just a period of bodily rest; it is a vital process that contributes significantly to our physical, mental, and immune functions.

A cross-sectional study conducted from April 2013 to December 2014 examined the sleep patterns of night shift workers and found that those who slept fewer hours had a higher incidence of high body mass index (BMI) and weight gain. Remarkably, this association persisted independently of age and gender. [2]

This underscores the intricate link between sleep duration and metabolic health, shedding light on the importance of sleep in weight management.

Athletes, whose physical performance is paramount, also stand to benefit significantly from sufficient sleep.

A systematic review of the literature revealed that sleep extension positively influences athletes’ performance and enhances their recovery. [3]

This insight emphasizes that sleep is not only a recovery mechanism but also a proactive factor that can contribute to improved athletic outcomes.

A Review Article demonstrated the significant impact of sleep on enhancing athletic performance through various mechanisms. It helps the body restore its immune and endocrine systems, recover from the strain of waking hours, and supports cognitive development. Different stages of sleep, like REM and NREM, contribute to memory consolidation and physical recovery in their own ways. NREM helps save energy and recover the nervous system, releasing growth hormone and reducing oxygen consumption. REM is important for brain activation, localized recovery, and emotional regulation. Overall, quality sleep with its various stages is crucial for athletes, influencing memory consolidation and adapting to the cognitive demands of sports. [4]

Moving beyond the physical realm, the mental health implications of sleep cannot be overlooked. Studies consistently show that individuals who experience poor sleep quality are more likely to report mental distress and anxiety. [5]

The intricate relationship between sleep and mental well-being underscores the role of sleep in emotional regulation and cognitive functioning. Adequate sleep is not merely a luxury but a foundational element in maintaining optimal mental health.

Sleep is important for a healthy brain. Different sleep stages affect how we think and remember things. Research shows that sleep has a big impact on our emotions and mental well-being. Getting enough sleep, especially the type with rapid eye movement (REM), helps our brain process emotions. If we don’t get good sleep, especially the positive kind, it can affect our mood and emotional reactions. It’s not just that sleep problems can show up because of mental health issues; they can also be part of what causes these problems. [6]

Moreover, the influence of sleep extends to our immune system. Research demonstrates that insufficient sleep can compromise the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. [7]

A study published on European Journal of Physiology demonstrated that Sleep and our body’s internal clock have a big impact on our immune system. When we sleep, certain immune factors peak, promoting inflammation and aiding in immune cell functions. Daytime wakefulness, on the other hand, is associated with different immune responses. Sleep seems to help immune cells move around and interact effectively. Research also shows that a good night’s sleep enhances our immune memory, especially during specific sleep stages. These effects are linked to the hormonal changes that occur during sleep, like increased growth hormone and prolactin, and decreased cortisol and catecholamine levels. [8]

The intricate interplay between sleep and immune function highlights the role of sleep as a protective factor against illnesses and underscores its significance in overall health maintenance.

In essence, sleep is a dynamic process that encompasses a myriad of benefits for both the body and mind.

The CDC’s recommendation of 7 hours per night is not arbitrary but a well-founded prescription for fostering a holistic state of health. Whether it’s the regulation of body weight, enhancement of athletic performance, or preservation of mental and immune functions, sleep plays a pivotal role.

Recognizing the importance of sleep not only dispels the notion that it is a form of time-wasting but prompts a reconsideration of its prioritization in our lives.

In the hustle and bustle of daily activities, acknowledging sleep as a non-negotiable element of self-care becomes imperative.

As we navigate the demands of modern life, ensuring that we allocate sufficient time for restorative sleep is a conscious investment in our long-term health and well-being.


1. How much sleep do I need? [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2022 [cited 2024 Feb 5]. Available from:

2. Brum MC, Dantas Filho FF, Schnorr CC, Bertoletti OA, Bottega GB, da Costa Rodrigues T. Night shift work, short sleep and Obesity. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 2020 Feb 10;12(1). doi:10.1186/s13098-020-0524-9

3. Bonnar D, Bartel K, Kakoschke N, Lang C. Sleep interventions designed to improve athletic performance and recovery: A systematic review of current approaches. Sports Medicine. 2018 Jan 20;48(3):683–703. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0832-x

4. Fullagar HH, Skorski S, Duffield R, Hammes D, Coutts AJ, Meyer T. Sleep and athletic performance: The effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports Medicine. 2014 Oct 15;45(2):161–86. Doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0260-0

5. Blackwelder, A., Hoskins, M., & Huber, L. (2021). Effect of inadequate sleep on frequent mental distress. Preventing Chronic Disease, 18.

6. Mental health and sleep [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 14]. Available from:

7. 8 health benefits of sleep [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 5]. Available from:

8. Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflügers Archiv – European Journal of Physiology. 2011 Nov 10;463(1):121–37. Doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0

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