Sleep: The Ultimate Energy Boost
by Gayle Cottrill
Just like other animals in nature, humans need sleep to survive. But what is it about sleep that is so important
When we sleep, our bodies repair our organs, muscles, and even blood vessels. Some hormones and chemicals are also created to help our immune system and help us grow, which is why sleep at different ages of development is so crucial. During the various cycles of sleep, our heart rate, body temperature, and brain activity fluctuate, all working together to help keep our bodies healthy and our minds in tip-top shape, so that when we wake, our mind and body are ready to tackle whatever the day has in store.
Getting a solid night’s rest helps us in multiple ways. The biggest one is giving us the energy we need to get through the day, with not just physical energy, but mental energy as well.
Sleep helps prepare our brain to learn. According to research, depriving your brain of sleep impacts its ability to process and retain information. Your brain cells cannot perform as well as they should on little sleep, and this could impact your performance at school, at work, or even your reaction time while driving.
People who do not get enough sleep also run the risk of overeating and gaining weight. Research has shown that people who sleep less tend to eat more throughout the day. And if your body doesn’t have enough energy, it can be difficult to keep up with physical activity.
While getting sleep is important on its own, getting quality sleep is even more so. Here are some key things to try to ensure the sleep you get will be the best for you.
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and make sure to have a regular sleep pattern. It’s a common misconception that you can “make up” sleep on a day that you’re not as busy. It takes several days of regular sleep to recover from one night of minimal sleep.
- Naps can be beneficial when needed, but they shouldn’t be too long or too late in the day, as they can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at bedtime. The most productive naps for adults are usually 10- to 20-minute “power naps,” although longer ones may be needed when you’re sick or just feel like you need one. Longer naps usually create a period of drowsiness once you awaken, so don’t plan a long nap if you need to be wide awake immediately after.
- Limit screen time before bed. Research has shown that the blue light emitted from electronic devices can negatively impact our sleep and the ability to create melatonin.
- Pay attention to your sleep environment. You should sleep in a cool, dark room as lights disrupt our natural circadian rhythm, and getting too hot at night can cause restless sleep.
- Eat a healthy, nutritional diet and get regular exercise to help you sleep more soundly.