Importance of Sleep for Greater Wellbeing

Often in the midst of our busy, activity-filled, commitment-driven lifestyles, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, almost 75% of teens are not getting enough sleep. We see this at a time where there is clear data showing the relationship between sleep deprivation and suicidal behavior. Instead of sacrificing sleep, it is crucial to see sleep as something we “need” to do every night, rather than something we “get” to do, as emphasized by Stanford sleep specialist, Dr. Rafael Pelayo.

Consistent, high-quality sleep impacts our health and wellbeing in a variety of positive ways; three of these benefits are outlined below. Healthy amount of sleep is around 8 to 10 hours per night for teens and 7-9 hours per night for adults. Experts say a “good night’s sleep” is the amount one needs without needing an alarm to wake up.

Attentiveness

  • Sleep allows us to be attentive and energetic throughout the day. Even one night of insufficient or low-quality sleep can lead to symptoms of forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Sleep grants us the ability to learn, while also granting us the ability to retain and remember.
  • Without sleep, one’s ability to learn new things could drop by 40% (link). Lack of sleep leads to less production of chemicals necessary to create dopamine and adrenaline – the same chemicals that are linked to happiness – and consequently, also lead to inattentiveness.
  • Sacrificing sleep to study has been shown to cause academic problems.

Memory

  • Sleeping strengthens our memories. Especially after learning, sleep is essential in order to preserve and seal the new information into the framework of the brain. Memories seemingly become more stable in the brain during deep stages of sleep. After the deep stages, the REM – rapid eye movement – stage is in charge of connecting related memories together, frequently in surprising ways. Thus, a complete night of sleep may support one’s problem-solving abilities.

Happy and healthy body

  • Sleep directly contributes to our healthy brain function and emotional wellbeing. Sleep deficiency can harm how we think, react, learn, and get along with others (link). Additionally, it can lead to mood swings, lack of motivation, feelings of anger or impulsivity, and feelings of sadness or depression.
  • Sleep naturally allows us greater ability to be creative, make decisions, solve problems, pay attention, control our emotions and behavior, and cope with change. It is the vital foundation to our overall wellbeing.

Besides the number of hours, keeping a regular, consistent sleep pattern is essential. On weekends, staying up late or sleeping-in excessively will eventually damage your quality of sleep and can negatively impact your ‘biological clock’, or the natural rhythm of our body’s behaviors.

​At night, staying away from blue light (cellphones, computer screens, etc.) can help us fall asleep faster and prevent disorientation of the circadian rhythm.

These apps may be helpful in strengthening quality sleep time:

Relax Melodies: Sleep Zen Sounds…

Sleep Cycle alarm clock

Consistent, high-quality sleep is necessary for our wellbeing and general health; it allows us to be fully functioning at our best, while also enhancing our attentiveness, memory, and overall health and happiness.

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