So – how much are you getting? When it comes to sleep most of us are not getting enough to sustain happiness, productivity or effectiveness levels. Being busy can be like a badge of honour and functioning on little sleep is sometimes seen as admirable. It’s anything but and not getting enough of it makes much more of an impact than we think. None of this is helped by our exposure to our screens in the evenings, working at night and simply not making the time to wind down properly and as our bodies (and minds) need us to….
Here are 5 great benefits of glorious sleep:
- Improves your memory – Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation). In other words if you’re trying to learn something newwhether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swingyou’ll perform better after sleeping.
- Living longer – Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespanalthough it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns.) In a recent study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.
- Spur your creativity levels – Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper. In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to re-organize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.
- Lower stress levels – When it comes to our health, stress and sleep are nearly one and the sameand both can affect cardiovascular health and immunity. If you have less stress you have better control of your blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels (which play a big role in heart disease)
- Avoid accidents – Being tired accounts for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performanceeven more than alcohol! Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
- Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day
- Limit naps to no more than 15 minutes Power Naps if you need them
- Spend more time in natural daylight
- Avoid bright screens within 1 – 2 hours of bed time
- Be smarter about what you eat and drink – that means less alcohol right before bed and no heavy meals – eat earlier and lighter
- Cut back on lots of sugar in the evening too
- Instead have snacks like banana or milk to promote sleep
- Wind down and clear your head – if something is on your mind try writing it down – your brain may well work out the answer whilst you sleep!
- Try deep breathing