Sleep is one of those things that many people take for granted. But when you don't get enough sleep, your well being and performance can suffer. If you're short on time, you may not feel like you have enough time to sleep well.
But good sleep is essential for living your best life and staying healthy. It can offer restorative, restful benefits that can help you feel better and more prepared to face the challenges of the day.
Sleep is the time when your body repairs and rejuvenates. Some of the body's restorative functions occur primarily during sleep including muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and the release of growth hormones.
Good sleep supports cognitive function, supporting brain plasticity. Rest is essential to:
We need sleep to consolidate and easily recall memories, make logical decisions and assessments, and practice good judgment.
Your attention to detail and productivity, even your risk of accidents is affected by how much and how well you sleep. Your interaction with others and risk of depression depend on sleep as well.
Getting sufficient sleep can help reduce your perception of pain. Research points to non-restorative sleep as a predictor of the onset of widespread pain in adults 50 and older. Up to 85 percent of people 65 years of age and older experience daily pain, but the subjects in the study who experienced more non-restorative sleep had an increased risk of developing widespread pain. Sleeping more may help prevent future aches.
When you sleep well, your physical performance may improve. In fact, sleep extension seems to improve performance, offering better physical performance if you sleep more hours than usual. This improved performance may happen because sleep supports muscle recovery. When we sleep, muscle recovery is better supported than when we are sleep deprived.
How to Get the Benefits of a Full Night's Sleep
Getting a good night of sleep can help you think and perform better and have a more stable mood. But you can only enjoy these benefits if you're sleeping well at night. Follow these tips to improve the quality of your sleep.
- Don't sacrifice sleep for other activities. Make sleep a priority in your life, even when you're pressed for time. Plan ahead, adjusting your schedule, so you have at least eight hours of time devoted to rest each night.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. You can support healthy sleep by practicing good habits. Keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule and follow a regular bedtime routine. Stop screen time at least one hour before bed, and be careful to avoid eating or drinking anything that could interfere with sleep late at night. Late night coffee, alcohol, heavy meals, and even nicotine can be too stimulating for healthy sleep.
- Make your sleep environment healthy. Ensure you're sleeping in a room that's conducive to rest. A healthy sleep environment should be quiet, dark, cool, and comfortable. Your mattress is a particularly important part of this environment, so you should carefully compare mattresses online and read reviews before you commit to a particular bed.
- Give yourself extra time to sleep. If you're going through a stressful time or intense physical training, you may need more time to rest. Add an hour or two to your sleep time so you'll have more energy and recovery time to draw on when you need it.
Author - Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.