10 Reasons to Get More Sleep This Year
Updated: Jan 10
Is getting more sleep one of your goals for 2022? Here’s why it should be.
Sleep is Good for Your Health
During deep sleep, your body reaches its most inactive state. Blood pressure, muscle tension, brain waves, and heart rate are all at their lowest point in the day. During this time, your body produces more white blood cells to help fight infection and disease, hormones are released to heal muscle tissue, and it allows your body to restore energy and hormonal balance while reducing stress.
Improve Your Cognitive Functioning
When you sleep, your brain cells shrink to allow cerebrospinal fluid to flow freely helping to remove toxins from the brain. Specifically, it removes the protein that is the pre-cursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that getting 7 hours of sleep is ideal for cognitive performance.
Have a Better Memory
Throughout the day, you are inundated with information. You see, hear, and feel things at incredible speed. During the night, the brain filters through all it has learned to determine what is important and improves the neural connections to that information to improve recall. One study found that participants given one hour of sleep after learning something new, had 40% better recall eight hours later compared to those who didn’t sleep.
It’s really hard to avoid getting into an accident if you’re nodding off. In fact, these “microsleeps” can last as long as 30 seconds and you might not even realize you’re doing it. Not getting enough sleep at night can lead to periods of sleepiness that result in nodding off especially during boring or monotonous tasks, like driving. It’s estimated that 21% of accidents are caused by lack of sleep. On top of that, you are 7 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident.
It Can Make You Happier
Do you ever feel like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? The most common symptom of lack of sleep is irritability. According to the American Psychological Association, lack of sleep makes you 25% more likely to lose your temper and yell at your kids. Image waking up feeling rested and refreshed… and happy, instead of ornery. Your interactions with others would be improved resulting in a happier day all around.
Improve Your Focus
One of the symptoms of lack of sleep is brain fog resulting in symptoms similar to ADHD. One study found that after a bad night’s sleep, the brain has difficulty ignoring distractions resulting in lost focus on the task at hand. This inability to “selectively pay attention” to the important task results in the brain trying to pay attention to everything going on around you which makes it difficult to complete assignments, to make decisions, and to be productive.
Better Handle Stress
Stress and bad sleep go hand in hand. In fact, stress is the number one reason people can’t sleep. It’s a bit of a cycle. Irritability, loss of focus, poor decision making, all play a role in your ability to handle stress. When you are tired from a bad night sleep, you tend to overreact to stressful situations, like firing off a nasty email for a perceived slight without thought or yell at the cashier in the store because you’re in a hurry. If you get a better night’s sleep, you’re less moody and more able to handle the stressful situations that arise during the day.
Make Better Decisions
Lack of sleep affects the brain in many ways. One of those is impaired moral judgement or an inability to foresee consequences. You have heard of decision fatigue – making many decisions throughout the day results in the deterioration of the quality of decisions. Well, add to that, irritability, lack of focus, increased stress, and an inability to foresee consequences all from lack of sleep, and you’re bound to make some decisions you wish you could take back.
Increase Your Creativity
When your brain is tired, your divergent thinking processes are diminished. Divergent thinking includes original thought, the ability to think “outside the box,” to be creative. Creativity is more than art. It’s also required for developing theories, solutions to problems, and logistical connections. It requires both sides of the brain to work together, to focus on the issue, to make leaps to new ideas. Research has found that experiencing all the stages of sleep are required for best creativity. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be getting enough of each stage of sleep, thus reducing your divergent thinking processes.
One survey found that 68% or people said it took longer to complete tasks and 72% found it difficult to motivate themselves. A 2016 RAND Research study found that lack of sleep contributes to an annual economic loss of $21.4B in Canada ($411B in the US). This loss was due to absenteeism, presenteeism (being at work but unproductive), errors, omissions, and accidents. Just about everything on this list can impact your ability to be productive.
I know how hard it can be to get enough sleep. And for many people, they just don’t prioritize it because there’s just too much to do. But sleep is a necessary biological function that affects every aspect of your life. Take it from someone who spent decades not sleeping. Consistently getting the sleep I need has absolutely transformed my life.
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