90% of American adults prioritize other aspects of their daily life over sleep. We get it. If you stay up just a few minutes longer, you can finish the project. If you set your alarm just an hour earlier, you can make it to the gym before work. We used to think like that too. But once you know how good your mind and body can feel, there’s no turning back. Read on to learn about sleep and the value of clocking quality time in bed.
What is sleep?
We know we do it. We know it’s important. We know we’re not the most pleasant versions of ourselves when we don’t get enough of it. But what exactly is sleep? We called in our old friend Merriam-Webster to weigh in:
We’re pretty sure we’re not the only ones that start daydreaming about supernatural powers after reading that definition. But we’ll try to focus. The key takeaway is that sleep is a natural way to restore your body.
While you’re awake, your body is generally in a catabolic state, which breaks you down. Sleep, on the other hand, is an anabolic state during which your body rebuilds and repairs itself. It’s when your body’s immune, skeletal, and muscular systems are rejuvenated. Ensuring our body spends enough quality time in this anabolic state is critical to its ability to recover and function at full capacity the following day.
Why is sleep important?
It’s easy to let your busy schedule dictate how much sleep you get. But once you learn about the consequences of sleep deprivation and the benefits associated with sleep, you too will start to prioritize quality ZZZs.
After 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there’s a drop in the amount of glucose reaching your brain. Thinking and memory are closely linked to glucose levels, so this drop sets up your brain to make subpar decisions. You may feel irritable, struggle to comprehend information at work, or reach for that bag of potato chips you usually avoid. The consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are much more severe. Think: increased risks of cancer, obesity, depression, memory loss, and decreased immunity (to name a few).
As you sleep, your body and brain recover from the day’s activities and recharge. Spending enough time between the sheets helps fortify your immune system, heal damaged cells, increase physical energy, and improve brain function. Quality sleep has also been linked to a more youthful appearance, successful weight loss and management, decreased stress, better memory, a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and longevity. We guess what we’re trying to say is: sleep is kind of a big deal.
How much sleep do you really need?
Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep nightly. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.