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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jesse Ropat

The Benefits of Sleep Are Not a “Luxury”

Updated: Jun 25


Your body really, truly needs rest.  Allowing your body to get much-needed sleep benefits you now and well into the future.  Research has shown that sleep deficiency substantially raises your personal risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mental disorders, and premature death.   


Chronic sleep deprivation affects more than 40 million adults in the United States alone according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  That’s almost one-third of us who are getting fewer than six hours each night.  


The CDC explained, “Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.”  


The issue of sleep has gotten so bad that it’s now considered a public health problem!


Why We’re Not Getting the Sleep We Need


The benefits of sleep are scientifically proven by hundreds of studies!  If you allow yourself to take the rest and recovery time your body requires, you’re going to feel incredible!


Do you beat yourself up about the necessity for sleep?  Do you feel as if sleep is “time wasted” or that you should be doing something else that’s more “productive?”  Do you brag about how little sleep get and give yourself some bizarre badge of honor when you go without?  If you oversleep, are you vicious to yourself?  Do you work from a place of panic to “catch up?”  


Sleep has become a negative thing.  Those who embrace the benefits of sleep are almost mocked for giving their bodies what every human body requires.  


After all, the “little sleepers” are getting a lot more tasks completed with all those extra hours of wakefulness, right?  Not at all.  For those who push themselves to be awake 18-20 hours a day to “get things done,” they’re probably not getting nearly as much accomplished as they think.  


Worse, the long-term effects of too little rest are severe.  Over the course of a decade, sleep deprivation basically strip-mines your body.  You use all your valuable resources and don’t replenish nearly enough of them.  


If you’re someone who consistently gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night, you keep your system in a perpetual “feast or famine” mode.  It’s unsure how much sleep you’ll get or when – so your body tries to reserve resources so you can make it through your days.  


This results in exhaustion, weight gain, depression (and other mood disorders), chronic pain, frequent illnesses (colds and flus), stress, and an increased risk of serious disease.  


As for productivity, tasks that should take a couple of hours seem to take all day and you’re more prone to frustration or even anger.  


Do you push yourself and deny your body sleep?  Are you spending your entire waking day focused on the minute-by-minute chaos with no thought of your health, future, or true happiness?  


Chronic sleep deprivation is basically forcing your body to run full speed, in place, for weeks, months, or years on end.  In the end, you’re getting nowhere and you could be causing damage that’s difficult to repair or reverse.  


The benefits of sleep will help you…


  • Sustain energy levels all day long.

  • Remain focused on the tasks at hand.

  • Stay emotionally balanced and in control.  

  • Have fewer cravings for sweets and caffeine.

  • Get more done in less time.  


Enough quality sleep is vital to your mental, emotional, and physical health.  It changes you on a cellular level because sleep is when your body repairs damaged tissue, stores your memories, and boosts your resiliency to stressors.  


The importance of sleep is truly critical.  Every minute spent not getting enough rest, you’re weakening your immune system.  


“We live in a 24/7 society,” says Carl Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.  “People just don’t realize how important sleep is, and what the health consequences are of not getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.  Sleep is just as important for overall health as diet and exercise.”


7-Step Sleep Routine 


There are several habits you can put in place to boost your sleep quality.  If you have children, setting these habits when they’re young will benefit them for the rest of their lives!


  1. Establish a routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends).

  2. Power down.  Shut down all electronics one hour before you plan to go to sleep.  Put your phone on “do not disturb” for a set number of hours so you don’t get notifications.  Keep electronics away from your bed.  (This is a painful one for a lot of us!)

  3. Take it easy.  Ease yourself into wakefulness.  Consider using an alarm light or vibration rather than a loud (and jarring) alarm buzzer.  If you must have sound to wake properly, use building volume.  Also, don’t immediately dive into your phone!

  4. Make things cozy.  Keep your room cool and dark.  This might require buying blackout curtains and a fan but it’s absolutely worth it.  

  5. Change it up.  Wash your sheets every 7-10 days (maximum) to remove dead skin, oils, and hair that you shed while you sleep.  Clean sheets are refreshing and aid in sleep quality.

  6. Wrap things up.  Before you climb in bed, handle all the essentials.  Let your pet out, lock up your house, shower (if you do so at night), go to the bathroom, and so on.  Train your body that once you climb in bed, you’re sleeping!

  7. Skip the junk.  Avoid junk food as much as possible.  For the best sleep benefits, foods that are high in protein and healthy fats are the way to go.  Cut back on the refined sugars and simple carbs where you can and replace them with foods like eggs, beans, avocado, coconut oil, veggies, and good grains a few hours before sleeping for high-quality fuel to get your body through the night. 


Figuring out how to get enough quality sleep doesn’t have to be complicated but it does have to be addressed.  By tweaking your bedtime, wake-time, and overall sleep routine, you’re going to look better, think better, and feel better during the day.  


Giving the benefits of sleep the important place in your life is going to change so many things for you.  Stop fighting your body’s need for true rest!  Give in and reap the rewards!






References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Are you getting enough sleep?

American Association for Advancement of Science: Sleep Deprivation Described as a Serious Public Health Problem

National Sleep Foundation:  Healthy Sleep Tips



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