Is sleeping important?
We live in a world driven by productivity.
We rarely think twice about compromising a few hours of sleep for extra study time or to attend a party with our friends. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of our health and mental well-being.
Sleep, like your job or passion, is a serious business.
How many hours of sleep do you really need?
Studies show that people require around 8 hours of sleep per day to function optimally. Whilst an occasional night without sleep might not hurt, there can be serious consequences to our well-being if sleep deprivation becomes a common occurrence.
What Happens if I don’t get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation not only impairs our attention, but it also hinders our ability to complete activities with multiple steps, such as driving.
Studies show that sleep deprivation increases the error rate in complex tasks from 15 to 30 percent. We find complex tasks in our day-to-day lives, including paying our bills, cooking a lavish meal, or even helping a friend with their personal problems.
Neglecting sleep can naturally lead to a host of problems, including a significantly higher risk of stroke and chronic heart disease. Studies have also found a correlation between sleep deprivation and Type-2 Diabetes.
Thus, sleeping poorly is a dangerous and expensive risk not worth taking.
What are the benefits of healthy sleep?
The benefits of getting enough sleep are plentiful.
For instance, a good night’s sleep improves our concentration and problem-solving skills. This means spending less time on a particular task which would take twice as long if we were sleep-deprived.
This bodes well for your overall mental and physical performance. It minimizes the risk of minor and even major errors, because of a lack of focus from sleep deprivation. Some of these errors could be deadly.
Sleep recharges our body
Our minds and bodies experience wear and tear. Luckily, we have our own repair mechanism. This is exactly the purpose of sleep. A complete sleep cycle strengthens our immune system, regulates our bodily processes, and restores our body to tip-top shape. In short, it keeps us ready for any challenge, may it be physical, mental, or emotional.
Sleep, like food and recreation, is also crucial to our development. Sleep does not only ‘reset’ our body, but it also resets our mind processes’ declarative (what) and procedural (how) information. This is crucial for learning and keeping necessary information, such as learning a new language or training for a new job.
Sleep improves our mood and social skills. People with healthy sleeping patterns are more capable of interacting in social situations, such as adapting to new environments, picking up on social cues and understanding other people’s emotions. Subsequently, this can improve mental health issues, such as depression and social anxiety.
How do I improve my sleep?
Now that we know the cost of sleep-deprivation and the benefits of a good night’s sleep. How can we improve our sleep hygiene?
Here are 8 tips to help you get into a regular sleep pattern.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep and no more than 8 hours of sleep
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. This can include meditation, light stretching or reading a book in a chair.
- Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy. Make sure you are reading this post somewhere else!
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings. This includes blue light from screens such as cell phones, television, and laptops. Turn these off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Eat your largest meal for breakfast or lunch
- Avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol before bedtime. Limit fluid intake 3 hours before bedtime.
- Work on making your bedroom a quiet and relaxing place. Keep your room at a comfortable, cool temperature. Consider listening to white noise through a fan or relaxing music if you’re sensitive to sounds at night.
Good Night and Sleep Tight.