Of all the things which people regard as important for their health, a good nights sleep is undoubtedly one of the most neglected. People treat getting insufficient sleep with a degree of bravado that theyd never dream of if they were getting, say, insufficient vitamins.

Sleep has these five key benefits:

1. Sleep can help reduce heart disease. If you dont get enough sleep (and enough for most people is between six and seven hours) then your cholesterol and blood pressure will be less than optimal. And that means, exposing yourself to heart disease.

2. Sleep can help prevent cancer. Melatonin is produced by our bodies when its dark. Its a hormone which seems to act as a preventive for the growth of tumors. (Its also one of the triggers which make us sleepy.) As we tend only to be in total darkness when we sleep, adequate sleep time is useful for melatonin production. People who get less than seven hours sleep a night are more susceptible to some types of cancer.

The millions of Americans who struggle to get a good nights sleep have a new worry to add to their tossing and turning: researchers have found surprising links between lack of sleep and several types of cancer, including prostate, breast, and colon cancer, among others.

Read More: Troubled Sleepers Face Increased Risk of Cancer

3. Sleep can help us lose weight. Hormones which are important in the control of appetite can be disrupted by inadequate or broken sleep patterns. People who get less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis are more likely than people who get plenty of good shut eye to be obese or overweight.

4. Sleep can improve your memory. It seems that when we are asleep, our brain sorts, orders and makes sense of our daytime experiences. Part of this sorting seems associated with allowing us to remember, make decisions, and in general sort out our lives. Hence the phrase, Ill sleep on it.

5. Sleep allows us to be alert and fully functioning. Sounds obvious, but sleep allows your body to restore and rebuild itself, so that you