Benefits of sleep and how to get better sleep

Sleep is the most important lifestyle change we can make for brain health, even more, important than food. Say you decide to go on a fast, and so you effectively starve yourself for a week. At the end of seven days, how would you be feeling? You’d probably be hungry, perhaps a little weak, and almost certainly somewhat thinner. But basically, you’d be fine. Now let’s say you deprive yourself of sleep for a week. Not so good. After several days, you’d be almost completely unable to function. Amnesty International list sleep deprivation as a form of torture!

There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.

So why is sleep one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice as the demands in our lives keep rising? Unfortunately today we are rather confronted with expressions, ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’. This attitude is outdated and why your whole company is suffering from the misconception that sleep is a luxury. Missing one night of sleep is cognitively the same as having a 0.1 blood alcohol level – too high to legally drive. You might as well do vodka shots during work.

Here are some reasons to get more sleep…

  • Sleep is a highly active time for brain development and brain function. During sleep your brain is working to heal all the damage that is has done to itself during the day (yep, all the processes actually slightly damage and leave toxins in the brain) This process is at the same time consolidating memories and set you up to be more creative and efficient the next day.
  • Our genes connected to our mental wellbeing are directly connected to sleep. So you need sleep to avoid depression or burn out.
  • Sleep is also proven to improve your immune system, making it less likely that you get ill and we are not just talking about the common cold. Sleep is protecting you against an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and illnesses, such as Alzheimers or Dementia.
  • Sleep deprivation makes people more prone to becoming addicted to caffeine, alcohol and drugs in general.
  • Sleep deprivation increases cortisol, which increases stress, which increases memory loss and serious illnesses …. lots of great things you want to avoid in your company.
  • People who are sleep deprived are in general in a bad mood and grumpy. Not great if you want quality customer service or team spirit.
  • When your body isn’t getting enough sleep your metabolism isn’t working correctly and you gain weight, which is not only unhealthy but also very frustrating to most people, affecting the mood of the affecting person for sure.

Here are some sleeping tips on how to get to sleep and how to sleep better 

  • Go to bed earlier — and at a set time. Sounds obvious right? The problem is there’s no alternative. You’re already waking up at the latest possible time you think is acceptable. If you don’t ritualize a specific bedtime, you’ll end up finding ways to stay up later, just the way you do now.
  • Start winding down at least 45 minutes before you turn out the light. You won’t fall asleep if you’re all wound up from answering email, or doing other work. Create a ritual around drinking a cup of herbal tea, or listening to music that helps you relax, or reading a dull book
  • Remove all electronics from your bedroom when you go to sleep as the blue light emitted from them interfere with our body’s natural clock
  • Try not to drink caffeinated drinks after 2pm as the effects of caffeine can take up to 8 hours to wear off.
  • Write down what’s on your mind — especially unfinished to-do’s and unresolved issues — just before you go to bed. If you leave items in your working memory, they’ll make it harder to fall asleep, and you’ll end up ruminating about them if you should wake up during the night.

Prioritise a good nights sleep and you will be more productive than if you pull another late night of work!