When you are trying to meet the demands of a hectic life and balancing your schedule, cutting down on sleep may seem like the only solution. But even minimal sleep loss can take a substantial toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. Long-term, chronic sleep loss can create chaos for your mental and physical health. By understanding your nightly sleep needs and how to bounce back from sleep loss, you can finally get on a healthy sleep schedule and improve the quality of your life.
But why is sleep so important?
The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the way you spend your waking life; including your productivity, brain and heart health, creativity, emotional balance, vitality, immune system and even your weight.
Sleep is not just that time when your body shuts off. While you rest, your brain oversees biological maintenance that keeps your body running on the best condition, preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you will not be able to learn, work, create and communicate at a level even close to your best potential.
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between health and productivity. By correctly addressing sleep problems and making time to get enough sleep each night, you will be able to boost your energy, efficiency, and overall health. In fact, you’ll likely get much more out of life than you were able to cheating on sleep hours.
Myth: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.
Fact: You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Myth: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.
Fact: Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by one or two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.
Myth: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue.
Fact: The quantity of sleep you get is important but it’s the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor and they keep waking up at night.
Myth: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.
Fact: Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt but it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.