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Why Do We Need Sleep?
Don't Get Left in the Dark: Discover Why We Sleep, How to Make the Most of Your Sleep, and What to Do If Your Sleep Isn't Working for You
Do you stay up late to squeeze in just one more hour of relaxing evening Netfix?
Get up early to make up for your procrastination the day before?
Spend the night tossing and turning because you don't know what you're doing with your life?
Hate to break it to you, but not getting a full night of good sleep is going to leave you in a worse position than your unfinished work will. The answers to the question “why do we need sleep?” are much more varied and wide-spread than most people realize, so consider turning off the computer and heading to bed instead.
With the right amount of sleep each night, you won't only feel better and look better, you'll perform better in every arena of your life. By comparing your current sleep patterns to the super successful people you admire, you might find that the key to success is right there in your bedroom.
How Much Sleep Is Enough Sleep?
Throughout your childhood and early adult years, you've probably held a variety of bedtimes.
Asleep by 8pm, up by 6am.
Asleep by 10am, up by 10am.
Asleep by 2am, up by 7am.
And while you may not be able to pinpoint any noticeable differences in mood or smarts or abilities based on your differing sleep patterns, they were there, for sure.
No matter what your sleep schedule looks like now, if you're sleep-deprived, you're in good company. In the United States, a ton of people are not getting nearly the sleep they need, according to the CDC.
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep every single night. The repercussions for not giving yourself those precious hours are pretty steep.
11.8% of American adults get fewer than 5 hours of sleep every night, and contrary to popular beliefs of success, hard work, and commitment, this behavior isn't doing anything beneficial, except for extending the life of your mattress.
23% of adults in the US only get 6 hours of sleep, which might seem like a decent amount until you realize just what it is that your body is doing when you are asleep… because it's pretty important.
A little over 50% of American adults are getting between 7-8 hours of sleep a night, which is right in that happy zone. If that's you, keep it up. However…
Say you're getting a solid 7 each night. You've heard the “between 7-9 hours a night” statistic quoted enough times that you make it your business to go to bed early (enough) to let you get up after a 7 hour nap and make it to work on time. But you might still be suffering the negative consequences of sleep deprivation, sorry.
Each person is different, and not just in terms of favorite foods and hobbies. The just-right zone of sleep for your partner or your mother or your boss might not be just-right for you, so even if you're feeling like you're doing a pretty good job of getting enough nightly zs, you might want to double check those possible side effects, just in case.
Why Do We Need Sleep? Isn't it Just Rest?
Nope. Not really at all.
The answers to the burning “why do we need sleep” question will change your sleeping patterns and your overall approach to sleep around, no doubt.
Although your eyes are closed and it feels like your body shuts down during sleep, your mind is actually super active. It is making sure that your body is in top shape, ready to go for your next day of work or play. And although sleep in general is good, there is one type of sleep that is most important…
REM sleep is the heavy hitter of your sleep cycle.
During your first stage of sleep, your brain waves are starting to slow. This sleep isn't very heavy, and it's easy to wake up a lot while your body is getting into the zone.
Stage two of sleep sees brain waves starting to spike as the brain gets ready to do the heavy lifting.
And then, if you haven't been woken up by a random thought or a dog jumping up onto your bed, you'll move into stages three and four: the money stages. These deeper stages are home to some seriously important jobs -- your body starts to repair muscle and tissue damage, your immune system ups its game, and you start building up energy for the next day.
If You're Not Sleeping, You're Probably…
Well, tired, for one.
But even if you can't tell that you're tired (maybe because tired has become your new normal), there are serious mental and psychological changes happening in that brain of yours that didn't get enough sleep.
Even just one hour of missed sleep can make it more difficult to focus, solve problems, and respond to creative or new situations. It might be harder to remember things, concentrate, or deal with the inevitable stress in our life.
But wait, there's more. Not getting enough sleep has pretty serious physical effects, too. Sleep deprivation makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, lowers your cardiovascular health, and obviously makes your body drain energy much faster than it normally would. Coffee won't pull you out of this one.
Sleep deprivation can even make you look older than you are.
Why do we need sleep, you ask? All the moisturizers and sunscreens in the world won't save you from the premature aging to the skin caused by lack of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep is so serious that it's even been compared to drunkenness. Being awake for 18 (or more) hours is essentially the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08%: drunk.
Over 100,000 car crashes each year are caused by sleepy driving, so if you think that you'll be fine or that it's not very far or that you know the way so well you could practically make the drive in your sleep, think again.
If you're getting enough sleep (because remember, simply setting that alarm to wake you up 8 hours after you go to bed isn't going to do the trick), you'll feel energized and alert throughout the whole day, pillow time to pillow time. Sound like a pipe dream?
Adjust your sleep schedule and see what a good night's rest really feels like.
Still not sure?
Check out this list of common signs of sleep deprivation to analyze your very own sleep situation:
While having some of these issues occasionally isn't a big deal, always feeling this way could cause a major strain on your health. Try going to bed earlier or waking up later for a couple of weeks and see what changes.
And It's Not All About You
Yeah, sleep deprivation is not great for your body or your mind or your spirit.
But your sleep deprivation is also pretty nasty for your boss, your company, and your country's economy.
Every year, the US loses over $411 billion due to sleep deprivation.
If you don't care about your own health, that number had better shock you.
$411 billion! All because of missed sleep.
Essentially, 1.23 million work days in the United States are pretty much lost because of sleep deprivation. Even if you're sitting in your desk, maintaining a physical presence in meetings, and technically talking to customers, clients, or colleagues, a sleep deprived you is not as effective, productive, or creative as a well-rested you.
Comparatively, Japan only loses about 604,000 days to employees not getting enough sleep. The United Kingdom is sitting at a significantly lower 209,000, and Canada takes the sleeping-well cake with only 78,000 days lost yearly to the consequences of sleep deprivation. That's still not great, but it's nothing compared to the US of A.
So next time you feel bad about checking out early to get some sleep, just remember: you're doing it for the good of your country.
You've probably heard stories all over the place about how so-and-so, the billionaire and famous author and fantastic parent and inspirational leader, only needs 2 hours of sleep a day. You might have even tried to emulate their schedule, because after all, who doesn't want to be a billionaire and famous author and fantastic parent and inspirational leader?
Lucky for all of us, though, depriving yourself of sleep is not a good way to reach those high goals. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world are getting plenty of sleep, so how about your follow that model instead?
Sleep is an integral part of health, mental and physical, so it's no surprise that these people commit to getting a solid sleep each and every night.
Bill Gates regularly gets 7 hours of sleep, while noted comedian Ellen DeGeneres gets 8. Even former President Barack Obama found the time to squeeze in 6 hours of sleep each night (President Trump settles for an unhealthy 3), and even Ben Franklin managed to get 7 hours of shut-eye.
How to Get on That Sleep Bandwagon
So sleep is important: you know why we need sleep, and you've been giving it a shot. But what if you just… can't?
If you've ruled out any medical problems as the cause of your disturbed sleep, try adding any of the following activities to your daily routine to help boost that REM sleep.
Get 30 minutes (or more) of exercise a day
Keep your sleep schedule regular
Try to manage your stress differently (meditation? Journaling? Professional help?)
Keep your bed for bed activities (no TV, no reading, no video games)
Maintain a good bedroom environment (cool, dark, quiet)
Worry about your stuff the next day (write it down, but try to get it out of your mind at night)
Get into the habit of relaxing before bed
Why do we need sleep?
It's simple, really.
Sleep gets your body ready for the next day. It helps your heart, your immune system, your brain, and even your skin. You won't just feel well-rested when you wake up in the morning, you'll be ready to face whatever the world throws at you with your creative problem-solving skills, patience, and an awakened sense of purpose.
Don't let the famous and successful people be the only ones who know the extreme value of a good night's rest. Getting enough sleep can truly revolutionize your attitude, your productivity, and the whole world.
Who will you be tomorrow morning?