Good Sleep Makes All The Difference
We all know that sleep is important yet it is usually the first thing that gets pushed aside.
But let’s explore the reasons why sleep should in fact be the last thing we prioritize. In general most people do not:
- Value sleep – most likely because they don’t recognize the impact that not sleeping truly has
- Know that sleep is imperative for cognitive ability & mental health
- Understand that sleep actually improves learning & memory capacity and insight
- Realize that without sleep, you cannot actually do what you want mentally or physically
Over time, people who have challenges with sleeping quite often say they feel “groggy” or “blurry”. There are good reasons for this:
- Sleepiness slows down your thought processes. Scientists have measured that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus or pay attention and you’re more easily confused. This in combination also inhibits your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. Sleepiness also impairs judgement and makes decision making more difficult because you cannot accurately assess the situation, to make an informed choice.
- Excessive sleepiness impairs your memory. Research has proven that nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep. Sleep effectively embeds the things we have learned and/or experienced during the previous day. Research also shows that different phases of sleep play different roles in consolidating the new learning/information into memories. So it makes sense, that if sleep is cut short or interrupted, it interferes with these cycles. If you are looking for evidence of this, notice how you may forget where you placed things on days when you haven’t slept well the night before. If you aren’t able to concentrate, how can you remember the smaller short term memory details? It must then be assumed if the pieces don’t get into your short term memory, they will never make it into your long term memory.
- Poor Sleeping habits affects your ability to learn in two ways. First by hindering your ability to focus and thus pick up information. It also affects your memory, which is essential to learning and retention. So if you have a class or important meeting tomorrow, make sure you sleep tonight. We know this for our children, but don’t think it applies to us.
Something many of us have not considered is the affect of sleepiness on our moods. The “waking tired” are more easy to frustration, overwhelm, anger and rage at the smallest thing. They are less likely to exercise, eat healthy, have sex and engage in other connection activities because of being tired.
Over time this may become a new way of life – chronic impaired, mood, memory and other functions can lead to depression, isolation. (which in some studies, is believed to have come first and in fact caused the sleeplessness).
Perhaps the final piece for us to consider, are the very real dangers of not getting enough sleep.
Sleepiness makes your reaction time slower – obviously affecting driving and other functions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes per year are from drive fatigue alone, and perhaps more worrying is that more than 1/3 of all drivers admit to driving while tired.
If you need more reason to sleep, driving tired can be the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level of.08% which is is equivalent to being over the limit in some places.
The fact that driving & our emergency service providers i.e.: police, firefighters etc., work in shifts, yet are industries that rely heavily on split second, gut feeling decisions – needs also to be considered carefully.
On a final note, if you are still wondering if your sleepiness is a problem for you, take a moment to see how you feel when you wake up in the morning. If you are sleeping well, you shouldn’t be tired when you wake up and you should feel energetic throughout the day, slowly winding down as your usual bedtime approaches. Review how you function through your day to day activities, accomplishing your tasks, your personal interactions with friends and colleagues. Can you remember things clearly, are you able to concentrate or focus? Are you being productive in your personal & professional life?
If the answers to these questions aren’t what you want to hear, perhaps reviewing your sleep & sleep habits is in order. You deserve to sleep well and reap the rewards of a restorative experience.