I wish sleep was unnecessary. If I could forgo my shuteye and work through the night, I would be unstoppable: imagine all the stuff that would get done! But this workaholic desire will never become a reality, because when I don’t get enough sleep, nasty consequences follow. I nodded off during a drive home from a musical festival last year (fortunately I snapped awake mere seconds before a semi truck would have plowed straight through my car). And I’m too embarrassed to admit the number of movies, plays, and college classes I have dozed off during because I found myself in a dark room while being burdened by a substantial sleep debt (let’s just call it “expensive nap-time?”). As nice it would be to have an extra 6-8 hours per night, the benefits of sleep cannot be denied. If you’re looking for a good reason to improve your quality of sleep (or an excuse to take a nap after you finish this article), keep on reading.
1. Improve your brain power.
Just because you’re asleep doesn’t mean your brain isn’t busy behind the scenes. Have you ever felt panicked the night before an exam because you couldn’t recall any of the material you were cramming in, but then the next morning you woke up to discover a staggering difference in your ability to remember? If so, this happened because your brain strengthens your memories while you sleep. Whether you’re learning a new language, studying for a test, or exploring a new hobby, expect to perform better after a good night’s sleep.
2. Enjoy more (and better) sex.
A study by the National Sleep Foundation discovered an alarming trend among Americans: one out of every four adults married to or living with a partner say they are often “so sleep-deprived that they are too tired to have sex.” The excuse “too tired to have sex” shouldn’t even exist, so please improve your sleep (for the sake of your sex life!).
3. Lose weight while you sleep.
Several studies point in the direction of a connection between a poor night’s sleep and weight gain. A recent study by the American Heart Association found that the sleep-deprived participants ate an average of 549 additional calories more than the control group (who slept an additional hour and twenty minutes).
4. Increased safety on the road.
A lack of sleep could lead to danger. According to a study by the American Automobile Association, 1 out of 6 deadly traffic accidents are due to drowsy driving. If you can help it, please don’t get behind the wheel when you’re so sleepy you can barely hold your head up. The signs of drowsy driving include drifting into another lane, frequent blinking, and lapses of concentration (i.e. when you realize you’re 10-20 miles farther and you didn’t even notice the journey).
5. Stay calm and cool at work.
While you shouldn’t numb yourself to feeling emotions, that doesn’t mean you should have a shouting match with a co-worker or boss. Surely you’ve noticed that a horrible night of sleep has a way of making you feel horrible (imagine!). The worse you feel, the more likely you are to lose your cool when faced with stressful situations.
6. Improve your athletic performance.
A study by the Stanford School of Medicine suggests that sleep could help athletes improve their performance. The college basketball players began the study by making no changes to their sleep schedule for 2-4 weeks. They were then asked to aim for 10 hours of sleep for the following 5-7 weeks. The well-rested athletes improved their speed, their free throw accuracy by 9%, their 3-point field goal accuracy by 9.2%, and their in-game performance.
7. Get more done in less time.
The irony of being “too busy to sleep”: neglecting to give your body the rest it needs merely makes it more difficult to pay attention (meaning it will take you longer to complete the task at hand).
8. Reduce stress.
Are you having a hard time sleeping because you’re stressed, or are you stressed because you’re having a hard time sleeping? Your quality of sleep and level of stress are so closely related that it can be hard to tell the difference, but the fact remains: a good night of shuteye will help you get rid of the nasty mental monsters living inside your thoughts. If you manage your stress, you can also look forward to improved heart health and blood pressure levels.
9. Boost immunity from sickness.
Want to avoid getting a cold or flu now that sweater weather is upon us? If so, get comfy under that blanket, because sleeping will help you stay healthy this fall and winter. A study by the Archives of Internal Medicine found that individuals sleeping less than 7 hours per night were 3 times more likely to get a cold than those who slept 8 or more.
10. It just feels good.
Your body needs sleep to survive (and anything you need to survive feels good when you need it). Think about how it feels when you get busy and have to delay a meal for several hours later than usual. Sure, your stomach gets grumpy and hungry, but isn’t that first bite delicious? Your body feels the same way about sleep when it needs rest. Be okay with the fact that you can’t work every hour of every day. Get a good night’s sleep (because it just feels good!). Read this article to check out 10 things that will help you sleep better. What benefits of sleep have you noticed in your life?
There are some people who just seem to have it all figured out. 11 Sleep Habits of Successful PeopleFeatured photo credit: Young woman sleeping at night in bedvia Shutterstock