The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep
Getting proper sleep is how your body and mind repairs itself after a day full of work, exercise, and any other activities you might be filling your undoubtedly busy days with. Sleeping could be even more critical to your health than what you eat, yet when we are in the midst of our busy lives sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. The repercussions on your body and your health from lack of sleep can quickly spiral out of control.
Aside from the obvious benefits of getting enough sleep like feeling refreshed and aware, sleeping can also help reduce stress, make better choices on a daily basis, and help regulate hormones. Sleep can also help improve your mood, and who doesn’t want to be in a better mood all of the time? Lack of proper sleep has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, less than optimal brain function, and depression.
It’s no surprise that there’s a strong link with people who get proper sleep tend to be healthier in general. Getting enough sleep can help you maintain a proper diet without as many temptations to eat foods with lower nutritional value. Sleep can also help improve athletic performance by allowing your muscles to repair themselves properly and more efficiently.
There are 4 different stages of sleep and all of them are important for different reasons.
When you first go to sleep, this is considered stage 1 where you can still be easily woken up. It’s normal to wake up or go back to stage 1 regularly in your sleep cycles, and often those periods of being “awake” are so short that you won’t remember them.
Next is stage 2, or light sleep. This stage will usually make up the majority of your sleep cycles and is important for physical and mental restoration.
Stage 3 is known as deep sleep and can help with your physical recovery and with aspects of memory and learning. If you are getting long periods of deep sleep, this may help you feel more refreshed when you wake up.
Stage 4, or REM sleep, is possibly the most important stage. This stage helps with your memory and mood and is also typically where you have powerful dreams. Your heart rate is elevated and your breathing becomes faster during REM sleep.
If you struggle with getting proper sleep, you won’t magically be able to get 8 hours of sleep every night, but it’s important to try and improve the amount of sleep you get by even a little bit. Ideally, you want to aim for 7 hours of sleep if possible and it may help to set reminders at night so you know when you need to be in bed in order to get your desired amount of sleep. Also, try and avoid checking your phone or watching TV before bed. Stimulating your brain in different ways before trying to go to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep. Remember, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise if you want to maintain your health!