I’m sure that you’ve seen the “sleep matters” message – which is supported by research – making the rounds in recent years, including from celebrities such as Arianna Huffington and the NFL, who have focused on how sleep impacts performance, athletic and otherwise.
Yet, despite hearing more about sleep, many of us are not actually getting more sleep! According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a third of U.S. adults are still not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. We disregard the science of sleep at our peril.
Sleep Science: Sleep is the linchpin to good health. Research shows that sleep is extremely important to day-to-day functioning, overall health, and life satisfaction. During sleep, the body’s systems are regulated and cells regenerated. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night in order to maintain healthy biological, cognitive, social, and emotional functioning.
The Science of Sleep Deprivation: Research has also linked sleep deprivation to a range of physical, emotional, and cognitive problems and some damaging long-term effects. Physically, sleep deprivation weakens the immune system, and also puts us at greater risk for chronic disease and weight gain. According to the CDC, adults who get less than 7 hours of sleep each night are more likely to report 10 chronic health conditions – including heart conditions, depression, and cancer -– compared with those who got enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also negatively impact short and long-term memory, increase anxiety levels, and reduce concentration and problem-solving skills. In other words, sleep is not just the linchpin to good health; it is essential to performing well, meeting your personal and professional goals, staying healthy, and thriving.
Prioritizing Sleep: Given its far-reaching impacts, what do you need to do to fit in more shut-eye amid all the other demands of your daily life? It might help to start by thinking about what is getting in the way of you getting enough sleep and coming up with a plan to overcome those hurdles. Here are some things to consider:
- What pre-bed activities can you forego?
- Are you falling asleep on the couch or with the TV on?
- Do you get distracted by technology or social media?
- Do you need a better routine to wind-down before bed, such as by reading, drinking tea, or listening to calming music?
- Have you prepared your room for the best quality sleep?
If you need some additional resources, the National Sleep Foundation has some great healthy sleep tips and tools.
As you turn the clocks back this weekend, it is the perfect time to plan for getting more sleep. Please let me know how it goes!
Director, Thrivewell Coaching