Importance Of Sleep

Man with hand on his face suffering from lack of sleep

What Can Lack Of Sleep Do To You?

Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. We lead busy lives full of responsibilities and goals that sometimes interfere with our sleep hygiene. After a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is go to sleep, only to wake up and go to work again; where is the excitement?

After a long day of work, you want to spend time with your family, play your favorite video game, drink a beer and watch “the game” or rent a new movie. But sometimes this pattern has to be broken by a good night’s sleep. The truth is that a good sleep hygiene will help you enjoy your downtime much more.

A lack of sleep can flip your personality upside down and turn you into someone who you are not: miserable, irritable, rude, defensive and easily annoyed. Your school and work performance may decrease; your concentration becomes subpar. You may lose interest in exercising; playing a sport may become more challenging and less interesting.

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep because they feel as if they are not gaining much from it; after all, the saying goes, “sleep is the cousin of death.” But in reality, sleep is when memories become consolidated, your mind and body recuperate, your fatigue dissipates and your mood stabilizes.

Developing the following sleep hygiene is crucial to reaping the benefits of sleep:

  • Go to sleep at the same hour every night
  • Wake up at the same hour every morning
  • Leave your bed after 30 minutes if you cannot fall asleep (the bed is only for sleep and sex)
  • Do not eat or drink a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not consume alcohol a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not exercise a couple of hours prior to sleep
  • Do not use electronics prior to sleep
  • Do not read, watch television or use the internet prior to sleep
  • Do not rely on sleeping medications

Once you start to appreciate the benefits of sleep, you will become thankful for rediscovering a fresh and vibrant version of yourself!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Benefits Of Sleep

The sleep hygiene of a cat sleeping under a white comforter

A Proper Sleepy Head

It is unimaginable how important sleep is to your wellbeing. To properly function and maximize your potential in life, you need a proper sleep hygiene. A sleep hygiene is a set of routines that you consistently stick to that allows you to maintain a good sleep over the long run:

  • Do not exercise the immediate hours prior to sleep (this will keep you awake since you are already energized from the workout)
  • No not consume a large meal before sleep (your body will be focused on the digestion process rather than resting)
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol before sleep (alcohol may make you fall asleep easier, but it actually interrupts your REM sleep, causing you to wake up more frequently, resulting in morning tiredness)
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (your internal clock which is located in a region of your brain called the hypothalamus becomes used to a set schedule – mess up this schedule and you will start having problems with sleep)
  • Stay away from caffeine before sleep
  • If you find yourself not being able to fall asleep after laying down for 30 minutes in bed, get out of bed and go do something else, and return back to bed in 30 minutes (laying in bed while not being able to fall asleep actually trains your mind to relate the bed with poor sleep)
  • Do not read, watch TV or utilize electronics while in bed (the bed should be associated only with sleep and sex; the rest can be done during the day outside of bed)

Did you know that sleep keeps your heart healthy? Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep may prevent cancer! Light suppresses the sleep hormone called melatonin; hence, why it is not produced during the day by your pineal gland. If you use electronics while going to sleep, you are telling your brain “I’m not ready to go to sleep” and your brain interprets this as a signal to shutdown melatonin production. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors.

Sleep reduces stress! When you do not sleep properly, your body experiences stress. This results in stress hormones being released as well as an elevation of blood pressure. Stress hormones make it harder for you to fall asleep, promote inflammation and elevated blood pressure, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep increases your energy level! After a good night’s sleep, you feel energized and mentally refreshed, allowing you to tackle the day’s work with a positive mindset, promoting happiness. This is why sleep hygiene is important!

Sleeps improves memory! During sleep, a process called memory consolidation occurs. Your brain is busy integrating everything that happened during the day, including new information that you have learned. Improved memory helps you become a better communicator, score higher on tests and feel better about yourself.

Sleep may help you lose weight! People who sleep less become hungrier during the day; the appetite hormones Leptin and Ghrelin become disrupted, resulting in hunger. Therefore, maintain a proper 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your hormones functioning in the normal range.

Overall, sleep is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. It is important that you maintain a good sleep hygiene; especially in this day and age, where we are living in an ultra-competitive and cut-throat society.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)