Sleep is an important indicator of your overall health and wellbeing. After all, people spend one-third of their lives under the sheets. And the quality of your sleep helps determine the quality of life you will have. A good night’s sleep of seven to nine hours is as important as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

To prove how important sleep is, here are five surprising benefits of a good night’s rest:

Sleep Promotes Healthy Weight

Sleep helps you achieve a healthy weight. A sleep-deprived body produces a decreased amount of leptin, also known as the starvation or fat hormone, and more ghrelin or the hunger hormone, leaving you with an increased appetite. A sleep study of 11-year-old children found that those who sleep for shorter periods of time have 14.9 percent higher ghrelin levels and 15.5 percent lower leptin levels than those who sleep seven to nine hours at night. Another study by the CDC found that 35 percent of Americans struggling with their weight are sleep deprived.

When you get enough sleep, you just feel better and happier. When you don’t sleep enough, your body produces more cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which is known to increase your appetite and affect your mood. If your hormone levels are stable, it makes you feel hungry only when you should feel hungry, thereby promoting a healthier weight.

Sleep Enhances Your Skin

Sleep deprivation can also have detrimental effects on your skin. A 2015 article posits that chronic poor sleep is connected with increased signs of ageing, diminished skin barrier function, and lowered satisfaction with physical appearance. People who sleep enough feel better about their appearances.

As you sleep, your body recovers and repairs itself by increasing blood flow to the skin, resulting in that “healthy morning glow.” The skin produces new collagen, creating brighter, clearer and firmer skin. The more quality sleep you get, the more collagen your skin can produce, helping to eliminate sagging skin, such as the “bags” that appear under your eyes, also known as dark circles. Collagen also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory that aids in fighting acne and immune-related skin irritations.

Sleep Stimulates Your Sex Life

According to a 2012 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 26 percent of people in the U.S. claim their sex life suffers because of sleep deprivation. Men who do not get enough sleep — due to obstructive sleep apnea, for example — have lower testosterone levels. Testosterone helps not only in building muscle mass and bones but also stimulates a healthy sex drive.

A pilot study of 171 caucasian women concluded that getting enough sleep improves a healthy sexual desire and genital response. Just one increased hour of sleep per night can increase the likelihood of a woman to engage in sexual activity with her partner by 14 percent.

Sleep Battles Depression

According to an article published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, between 60 and 90 percent of patients with depression have insomnia, while approximately 20 percent of people suffering from depression have sleep apnea. In longitudinal studies, researchers found that insomnia was a risk factor for new-onset or recurring depression in patients spanning multiple age groups.

Sleep gives your brain time to rebalance the natural chemicals and hormones that affect your mood, emotions and mental clarity. Getting a good night’s sleep can increase emotional stability.

Sleep Improves Decision Making

The wise words advising you to “sleep on it” before making an important decision are true: a good night’s sleep can drastically improve decision making.

Sleep helps you organise your memory, process information gathered throughout the day and solve challenging problems. Sleep deprivation affects your self-control in two ways: first it can reduce your capacity to exercise willpower, and secondly, it can diminish the energy you need for self-control. A person who does not have enough sleep might struggle to control impulsive behaviour such as good diet and exercise choices.

The benefits of sleep are extensive. They can make a substantial difference in both the quality and length of your life. Place sleep as a top priority to promote your physical and mental health!

This is a content partnership between MyDoc and Lifestyle Collective to provide high-quality health content to our readers. MyDoc is a digital health brand that makes access to quality health easier and faster. This series is focused on educating people on general health topics. The information shared has been reviewed by third-party medical professionals.