A night of high-quality sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. A good sleep is what recharges you completely and ensures that you function properly the next day.
Just like the solution to a computer issue is most often to turn it off and on again, turning your brain off while you snooze can be an instant fix to your problems.
Unfortunately, sleep is often overlooked and underprioritized in the modern world, only second-best to working and socializing.
Here’s why you should be prioritizing sleep more, and how to catch that elusive high-quality sleep fairy to get the best snooze imaginable.
Why is high quality sleep so important?
When you’re asleep, you’re essentially recharging your mind and body and preparing it for the day ahead. Getting high-quality sleep regularly allows your brain and body to function optimally. It has more influence over you than you’d think…
Important for body
Your quality of sleep determines not just how active you are during the day, but also how healthy and resistant to disease you become. Here are some ways catching enough Z’s can affect your body:
Strengthened immune system
Sleeping allows your body to repair and regenerate itself, strengthening your immune system and helping it fight off infection. It’s no wonder that patients are prescribed rest and sleep when they’re sick. The restorative effects of a sound night’s sleep are physically healing.
Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. This is because rest allows your body’s blood pressure to regulate itself naturally instead of rising and potentially causing problems.
Having a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night also reduces the risk of inflammation and cell damage in the body. Loss of sleep can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, leading to diseases such as Crohn’s Disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Poor quality sleep can lead to weight gain
People who are sleep deprived tend to put on weight faster than those with good sleep cycles. There are numerous factors coming to play here, including changing hormones, being motivated to exercise and regulating calorie intake. There’s even evidence to suggest that when people suffer low-quality sleep, it interferes with the body’s ability to regulate food intake. This can sometimes lead to overeating and obesity.
Important for mind
As far as the body’s concerned, having regular nights of high-quality sleep are vital to keeping it in good working order. But it’s not just the body that benefits from a good night’s rest. Here’s how sleep quality affects your mind on a daily basis:
Productivity and performance
Studies from the early 2000s show that sleep links to various brain functions, including your productivity, concentration and cognition. This can directly impact your performance at work as well as your coordination and ability to complete everyday tasks. A person who suffers from low-quality sleep is more likely to make errors in the workplace and have problems with their memory.
Preventing depression and anxiety
There is evidence to suggest a strong link between sleep quality and depression. People suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea are more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Most people with depression and anxiety complain about sleep quality, lethargy during the day and inability to fall asleep at night. Getting a good sleep will help keep your mind in top working order.
Sleep affects your mood and social interactions
Your sleep quality has a direct impact on your social and emotional intelligence. Researchers believe that lack of sleep reduces your ability to respond appropriately during social interactions. This is because it makes it harder to distinguish people’s expressions and recognise important social cues. Being sleep deprived also prevents you from being able to process emotional information properly. If you want to improve your social skills, better sleep might just be the answer!
Decision-making and memory
Not getting enough quality sleep affects your ability to make decisions, from what you want for breakfast to what you will say in your work presentation. When you are sleep deprived, your brain has a harder time processing information. How many times have you heard someone saying that they “can’t think straight” when they’re tired?
How to achieve high quality sleep
Unfortunately, a lot of things can interfere with your natural sleep patterns. Working late, too much screen time before bed and not having optimal sleeping conditions can all interfere with your sleep cycles. They can cause “shallow,” interrupted, poor-quality sleep that will leave you feeling more agitated than rested.
If you have trouble falling asleep, start implementing a bedtime routine to calm your mind and prepare your body for resting.
If you have trouble staying asleep, do some preparatory work throughout the day. Make sure you get enough exercise to tire yourself out, avoid eating a large meal after 7pm, and leave your electronics in the living room before hitting the bedroom. Also, avoid drinking too much water immediately before sleeping. You’re more likely to wake up needing the bathroom throughout the night.
For optimal sleeping conditions which will help you stay comfortable asleep, make sure your bedroom is cool and dark, and you have comfy bedding. If there’s too much external noise, use a pair of quality earplugs to block out anything that might wake you.
Also, reserving your bed for sleep (and sex) helps your mind associate it with sleeping. This way, you’re more likely to feel tired naturally when you climb under the sheets.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help you establish a routine, so you are more likely to feel tired naturally when its nearing bedtime.
The perfect sleep
Many people are confused about how long they should fall and stay asleep for. This varies depending on age, but the average adult (18-65 years old) should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
During sleep, we go through sleep cycles which includes falling asleep, deep sleep and REM sleep (the dream phase). Each sleep cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes, during which you go through all 5 stages of sleep, from deep, restorative sleep to lighter sleep. You should aim to have 5-6 sleep cycles each night, which makes 7 and a half hours to 9 hours the optimal sleep time.
Oversleeping, or sleeping more than you need to can also cause a whole host of other problems like insomnia and lethargy during the day.
Having high-quality sleep can either make or break your day. It’s arguably the single most important thing, alongside eating healthily and exercising.
Sleep affects your mind and your body, and it’s something you have to do every night, so it’s better to get it right and fix any underlying issues.
Calm is a supplement that people have found to help them improve sleep, overall brain function, and increase their overall quality of life.