When your schedule gets tight, is sleep one of the first things to go? According to the experts, that’s all too common. And it makes about as much sense as deciding to do without food, air, or water. Sleep is that essential.
Most adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
Sleep promotes brain function and mood.
- Mental focus. Sleep helps keep us sharp. It supports concentration, problem solving, and productivity.
- Emotional stability. Sleep helps us cope with change and difficult circumstances. Too little sleep contributes to reactivity and/or depression.
- Prevention of memory loss. New studies indicate that the brain may use sleep as a time to clean out the harmful proteins that build up in persons with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Sleep is essential to physical health.
- Healing and repair. The tissues of the heart and blood vessels particularly need sleep time for repair. Getting too little sleep for too long doubles your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Maintaining normal weight. Lack of sleep changes the production of hormones that regulate hunger and blood sugar. This can lead to weight gain and/or diabetes.
- Fighting infection. Adequate sleep helps keep your immune system strong.
Tips to support good sleep:
- Exercise daily (but not right before bed), and get some sunlight each day.
- Maintain a steady sleep and wake schedule throughout the week, including weekends.
- One hour before bedtime, wind down with calm activities. Cut out bright lights, such as from a TV or computer screen.
- Avoid heavy eating, caffeine, and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom a cool, quiet sanctuary for sleep, and use your bed only for sleep or sex.
- Use short daytime naps for a boost if necessary (maximum 30 minutes). Naps can otherwise interfere with nighttime sleep and do not provide the same type of healing rest.
Sleep is not a waste of time! Getting enough sleep not only feels good, it gives you the stamina and resilience you need to juggle all your responsibilities effectively.