Getting a good night’s sleep can feel great, and a neurologist specializing in sleep wants people to know that routinely sleeping well can also bolster one’s immune system and mental health.
“It’s really important to get great sleep,” said Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, a National Sleep Foundation board member and an associate professor of neurology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
Pointing out that bodies are constantly working to fight off ailments, Oyegbile-Chidi said resting well can help bodies reset white blood cell counts.
“We know that while they’re fighting off bacteria et cetera, white blood cell levels can drop … but when you sleep well, you basically reset or ‘re-up’ the white blood cells and other immune factors. And this can lead to improved health overall [and you’re] less likely to have infections,” she said.
It’s recommended adults get seven to nine hours a night. Children need eight to 11 hours nightly.
People waking up after a poor night’s sleep can feel groggy, irritable and/or cranky through the day.
“Sometimes you just have this mental fogginess: You’re not able to really concentrate as clearly as you would have if you had had a good night’s sleep,” she said.
“It’s the same thing over time when you continue to have reduced sleep. It starts to build up in your brain. After a while, that grogginess and irritability and crankiness begins to turn into a depression, anxiety and these kind of mental health disorders that we try and avoid.”
People who have been very sleep-deprived over time, she said, may find they’re not only unable to think, but also they begin to believe their personalities are irritable or cranky.
“When you get that sleep under control, you’ll actually find that your mental health, your feelings of happiness and wellness will be much improved, compared to if you continue with that sleep deprivation,” Oyegbile-Chidi said.
You can find tips and advice for how to achieve better sleep in the audio clip below and on the National Sleep Foundation website.