Sleep: We need it to survive, yet most of us don’t get enough of it.
Why is so important to get adequate sleep? What are the benefits of sleep? Here are 10 good reasons to hit the sack earlier tonight:
1. Aids in immune system function
Chronic sleep-deprivation can suppress the immune, making a person more susceptible to colds and other illnesses (WebMD).
2. Helps with problem solving
Sleep, particularly REM sleep, appears to enhance creative problem solving (Science Daily, 06/09/09).
3. Boosts creativity
This goes along with problem-solving. Being creative often requires the ability to solve problems and think outside the box—hard to do when all you’re yawning every 2 minutes.
4. Improves mood
Being tired can cause a person to become cranky, agitated, and quick to anger.
5. Increases motivation
When sleep-deprived, it’s hard enough to have motivation to stay awake, much less do anything else.
6. Enhances athletic performance
Anyone who has been too tired to exercise doesn’t need a scientist to tell him that you can’t perform at peak athletic performance with sleep deprivation—it’s hard to even get off the couch, much less go to the gym. A study found that getting 10 hours of sleep a night improved the skills of women tennis players at Stanford University (New York Times, 06/17/09).
7. Boosts self-control
A research study in mice found that sleep disruption affected the mice’s prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making, which in turn affects self-control (Psychology Today, 10/28/09).
8. Helps with weight control
Research has shown that the amount of sleep we get influences grehlin and leptin, hormones which regulate appetite (WebMD). Besides, if you’re sleeping longer, you’re awake fewer hours in which to eat.
9. Increases libido
Perhaps getting adequate rest doesn’t increase libido as much as lack of sleep dampens it. More time in bed might just mean more time in bed…doing other things.
10. Helps with decision-making
A lack of sleep may affect whether we make good decisions. Being tired may also cause difficulty making up one’s mind, period.
So, how much sleep is enough?
The recommended amount is 8-10 hours, but genetic factors largely determine how much shut-eye an individual needs. Research has shown that not getting enough sleep shortens a person’s life. But to make matters confusing, a study published a few years ago found a lower death rate in people who get more than 7 hours a night.
The bottom line is that most people know when they are not getting enough sleep. The afternoon slump probably has less to do with what you had for lunch than how much sleep you got the night before. If you have a strong urge to take an afternoon nap, you probably could have gone to bed a little earlier the night before. If you are falling asleep within 5 minutes of your head hitting the pillow at night, you are clearly sleep-deprived.
You are not missing out on life by going to bed earlier; you are enhancing your waking hours so you can feel happier and more alert—and, as a result, approach life with more zest and enthusiasm.