Our perspective on sleep changes with age. As children, we would fight our bedtime, pushing the boundaries with our parents in order to stay up later. It was perceived as a treat or reward to stay up late for a special occasion. As teenagers, we’d break records with the number of hours slept. With growing bodies and confusing hormones, it’s exhausting. Then we grow up some more and endure hours of studying, this time pushing the boundaries of sleep because we need those hours in order to work. This carries through into adulthood when we socialize late into the night. Until one day it flips; suddenly we crave sleep. In between relationships and work, we begin to look forward to the weekends to catch up on sleep. Some people become parents, and a good night’s sleep becomes a mere fantasy.
So what is it about sleep? Why do we learn to love it, and why is it so important that we sleep enough. It goes without saying that we all feel more rested after a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps boost our mood and gives us energy for the next day. Our brain uses this time to recover from the day gone, and prepare for the next day. The right amount of sleep has a heavy impact on our health as well. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to reduced cognition, mood shifts, attention lapses, and delayed reactions. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a higher risk of certain medical conditions, diseases, and poorer mental health. Additionally, the cells in our body use this time to recoup from a day’s work and become stronger. Sleep enforces the immune system, meaning we’re less likely to get sick if we rest enough.
Sleep is extremely important for brain function, and thereby helps cognitions and improves productivity and concentration. Good sleep has been shown to enhance memory skills and improve problem-solving skills. This means that when we don’t sleep enough, the risk of making errors is highly increased. As well as being just as important as a healthy diet and exercise, the amount and quality of sleep also affect these. The right amount of sleep leads to a lower intake of calories and can maximize athletic performance. So it’s worth setting up a good sleep routine and helping yourself out.