In today’s fast-paced and digital world, sleep isn’t always a priority. Or sometimes, you’d like to make it a priority but can’t because a work deadline is looming or you have a sick toddler keeping you up. The importance of sleep goes beyond simply making you feel energetic and well-rested the next day. Let’s discuss how and why you should make sleep a priority in your life.
Why is sleep important?
After a good night’s rest, you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. There’s good reason! Sleep is your body’s charging time. Your body needs enough hours of good-quality sleep (7-8 hours is the generally recommended amount of sleep for an adult).
Too little sleep has negative health effects. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and stroke risk. It affects your mental health as well.
Too little sleep even has an effect on your weight. Just 2 nights of inadequate sleep has been shown to increase hunger hormones as well as result in insulin resistance! The result is weight gain and the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Sleep deprivation can even cause memory issues and impair your thinking processes. Inadequate sleep also results in excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
How to sleep better
Ok, so we understand why adequate sleep is necessary. But how do you make sure that happens? Well, for one, set a schedule. If you have or have had young kids, you know how important a bedtime schedule is, and it’s no less essential for an adult. Having a set bedtime trains your body to be ready for sleep at around the same time every night. Having a bedtime routine helps as well. Curling up with a good book or taking a bath are good ways to wind down.
Many people choose to wind down with a TV show or by playing games or browsing the internet on their phones while in bed, but this is not ideal. See, the blue light from digital screens acts like sunlight to our bodies, disrupting the body’s natural nightly melatonin production. Sunlight and light from a screen, signals to our body that it’s time to wake up. So avoid screens for an hour before bedtime for better sleep.
How do you make sleep a priority?
In order to make sleep more of a priority in life, you have to get to the bottom of why you’re (consciously or subconsciously) putting it on the backburner. Barring any concrete reasons why you can’t get a good night’s sleep (newborn at home, for example, or medical reasons) what’s keeping you up at night? Do you feel the need to put in a few extra hours of work at night? Or did you work so hard during the day that you feel the need to wind down for an hour even though you know your body could really use that extra hour of sleep? Is housework keeping you up? Whenever you find yourself getting these feelings, stop and think about how you feel in the morning. Do you wake up very begrudgingly and hit the snooze button 5 times? You may not be getting enough sleep then. Now, picture how it feels to wake up well-rested. Sleeping well IS self-care! The dishes can wait. Have work to do? You’ll get it done so much better and faster, and be able to think much more clearly, after a full 7-8 hours of sleep.
So get your sleep! Make time for sleep and if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night or staying asleep, make a point to try the sleep tips we listed above, see your doctor for help and check out this video for more information about the science supporting the importance of sleep. Your body will thank you!