Good sleep is the key to well balanced and healthy life

Good sleep is the key to well balanced and healthy life

Sleep: A Key to A Healthy Life. Why it’s so important to get catch those Z’s “Plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead, Edie.”

Itwas 10:30 PM for me, but 3:30 AM for him. He was awake, for no good reason other than he couldn’t sleep and wanted to write. He said he was going back to bed. He did not. Can you hear the disapproving sigh?

That’s actually a statement I’ve heard many times, and I’ve probably been guilty of uttering myself once or twice. Unfortunately, we don’t take sleep seriously enough. I’m guilty of it myself; pushing until the last possible minute to go to bed, and then waking up unrested, fog-headed and cranky.

I love sleep — I’ve always been a sleeper, but I know I’m not getting nearly enough of it these days, and I know that has to change.
There are so many benefits to getting enough sleep — and just as many drawbacks to not getting enough.
“… sleep deprivation is an illegal torture method outlawed by the Geneva Convention and international courts, but most of us do it to ourselves.”
― Ryan Hurd

Your Entire Life is Affected by Sleep — Or Lack Thereof

As much as there are many benefits to getting enough sleep, the drawbacks when you don’t get enough are equally important to know. Most of us just think ‘I’ll just catch up later’, or ‘I don’t need that much sleep, I can function on much less’. Listen to your body!
The consequences can be much dire than nodding off at the office — although, ‘stay awake, stay employed’, is a phrase repeated often where I work.

Emotional Health, Stress, and Anxiety

Face it, lack of sleep makes you cranky. Don’t even try to convince me differently. Not only does it make you cranky — but your moodiness will also affect your outlook on life: your positivity is hard to find when all you feel is negative vibes. And like it or not, negativity is contagious — you’re now affecting those around you. Friends, family, partners — would-be partners.
Your ability to effectively deal with normal every-day situations is lessened, causing you more stress, more irritability, more anxiety — which in turn, you’re not quite sure how to deal with because you’re not firing on all cylinders when you’re sleep-deprived.
Life seems darker, bleaker, more pointless or redundant. You can’t deal — and you don’t really want to hear it when someone tries to help.
Get some sleep. Everything looks better with a clear head and a rested mind.

Physical Health

In order for your body to operate at its peak level, it needs to be well-rested. If you lead an active lifestyle and exercise regularly, putting stress on your muscles, your body actually needs to sleep in order for those muscles to repair themselves.
But more than that, sleep is also when your blood vessels and heart repair themselves from the stress they’re under every day. And I don’t know about you, but I think those are pretty important bits!

Healthy Brain Activity, Cognitive Function, and Memory

I forget so many things. I know not all of that is because of sleep — I blame my genes for most of it. But I also know I could improve my memory drastically if I gave my brain the amount of rest it actually requires.
I find on those days where I’ve had really bad — or really little — sleep, the day at the office is horrible. I can’t seem to focus or concentrate on the simplest tasks. I get frustrated with myself — I forget things, I make more mistakes — and people generally get on my nerves a lot more.
When I’ve had restful sleep, and enough of it, things go much more smoothly. Problems seem more effortless to solve, I remember things more easily, and I have less trouble focusing through the constant noise.
A well-rested brain is a happy, high-performing brain. Treat your brain nicely — go to sleep.


Research shows that missing even an hour and a half of sleep can drastically affect your level of alertness. Our reflexes are slower, and we don’t process information as quickly, giving us dangerously slow reaction times in emergency situations. The numbers regarding car crashes caused by sleep deprivation and drivers being drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel are astounding.

The AAA Foundation conducted a study a couple of years ago for Traffic Safety, and they discovered that approximately 328,000 crashes caused by drowsy driving happen every year in the US — that more than 109,000 of them resulted in injuries, and a staggering 6,400 resulted in death.
Think of how many people might still be alive today, if only we all got enough sleep.

Quality of Life

How many times have you declined an invitation because you’re ‘just too tired’. Because nothing seems as appealing as going home to sleep — but then when you’re home, you’re doing anything but sleeping. You’re binge-watching some new show, or mindlessly scrolling Instagram — you don’t dare open that Messenger app because then people will know you’re awake when you told them you’d be sleeping.

You skip out on fun outings and activities because you can’t find the energy to be present. And even if you do accept, you’re not fully ‘there’. You’re distracted, grumpy, mentally checked-out.
Making sure you’re getting enough sleep will give you back your social life. You’ll feel energized and fully present — you’ll feel yourself, the way ‘yourself’ is supposed to feel if you’re running at optimum levels.

“Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and an even greater risk of death.” — The NIH, National Heart, Lung and Blood Insitute
I’ve long maintained that it’s unnatural for us to have to wake up with an alarm clock — setting a specific time to be jarred awake every morning, often at the crack of dawn. It might be required in order to keep a day job, but it’s just not natural.

For a long time, I was adamant that I wasn’t a morning person. But weekend and holiday mornings this summer made me realize that isn’t the case at all. I actually do enjoy being up early, waking up slowly, watching the world come alive — just as long as I’m not forced to do so.
Waking up on my own, when my body and my brain have had enough rest, is when I’m happiest. I wake up rested, relaxed, happy, and ready for the day. Whereas waking up to an alarm every weekday morning has the exact opposite effect on me. I’m startled awake before I’m ready to be, my body doesn’t feel rested, my head doesn’t feel clear and I certainly do not feel happy.
And, so it appears, I’m not wrong in my beliefs!

“Alarm clocks are the bane of humanity. Sleep inertia, the decline in motor dexterity, subjective feeling of grogginess, and impaired state of awareness and mental performance is normal after awakening from even a light sleep. Scientific studies reveal that abruptly awakening from a deep sleep amplifies the severity and duration of sleep inertia.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Are You Getting Enough Z’s?

There are multiple sources of information that have slight variations regarding how much sleep we should really be getting. This list created by the Cleveland Health Clinic seems to be the most accurate I’ve found:

  • Adults 65 years and over: 7–8 hours
  • Adults between 26–64 years: 7–9 hours
  • Young adults between 18–25 years: 7–9 hours
  • Teenagers between 14–17 years: 8–10 hours
  • Children between 6–13 years: 9–11 hours
  • Young children between 3–5 years: 10–13 hours
  • Toddlers between 1–2 years: 11–14 hours
  • Infants between 4–11 months: 12–15 hours
  • Newborn to 3 months: 14–17 hours

Take into consideration the type of lifestyle you lead, but also listen to your body, when deciding which end of the spectrum you fit into for your age bracket.
If you’re a 28-year-old male who works in retail, for example, you might aim towards the lower end at 7 hours, but if you’ve got a highly active and physically demanding job, you may need more and want to aim for the higher end of 9 hours. Then again, you may lead a completely sedentary life and still require 9 hours. Everybody and everybody is different.

Experiment, test it out — your body will tell you where it feels the happiest — but make sure you’re at least getting the minimum requirement!

Fix Your Sleeping Habits

There are very simple things you can do to get your sleeping habits in order. They say it takes three weeks to create (or break) habits, so if you can stick it out for 21 days, I think you can stick it out long-term!

Set a bedtime: Based on what time you need to get up in the morning, figure out what time you need to be sleeping in order to reach your target hours of sleep every night. If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep, try to get into bed 30 minutes before to give yourself enough time.

Set a timer: We’ve all got smartphones now, but if you’re the rare person who doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with a regular alarm clock. Set a reminder for one hour before bed, and another half an hour later, and start your bedtime routine. Routines are extremely helpful in creating lasting habits.

Make sleep a priority: Just as eating and bathing are priorities, so should be sleep. If you’re a list person, add it to your to-do, with a set time. Put it on your daily calendar, and then stick to it. If you do it long enough, it will become second nature pretty quickly. Be strict with yourself until you don’t have to be.

Set the mood: Atmosphere is a big deal when it comes to proper sleep. Removing bright light sources and distracting noise is key. If you say you can’t sleep without the TV on, take a deeper look at that and figure out why you think that is — and then actually try it with the tube turned off. You might surprise yourself and wake up more well-rested.

My husband is addicted to TV, but I won’t allow it in the bedroom, so he’s got a tablet on his nightstand and his wireless headphones. Compromise. His sleep schedule is erratic at best, and I know it would improve with some of these changes, but he’s more stubborn than a mule.
I, on the other hand, require dark and quiet to sleep. So I’ve taken to wearing a sleep mask to block the light from his tablet, and I recently found “Dark Screen” on YouTube, which has a variety of soothing nature sounds. My go-to is soft rain — they play for 8 to 10 hours, so it’s perfect (Just make sure you’re on wifi or have unlimited data because if not… yikes!)
If you’ve never had good sleeping habits, give yourself a little grace, after all, you’re only human. Old habits — or non-habits — can be hard to break. Start with small goals, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect. None of us are.

Be flexible — on the days when you don’t have to be up at a certain time, go ahead and stay up a bit later, knowing you can make it up in the morning — and then ditch the alarm! Choose to wake up slowly on your own, when your body decides it’s had enough sleep. Trust me — the morning will seem much brighter and happier that way!

But making small changes over time, you’ll start to see results. You’ll start to feel better physically. You’ll have a clearer mind. You’ll remember things more easily. Stress and anxiety will start to feel more manageable, and you’ll gain more patience. You won’t be so quick to anger or emotional outbursts, and you’ll live a generally happier and healthier life.
Sleep is just the first step — once you start to feel better from getting enough deep, restful and energizing sleep, you’ll find that other healthy habits will start to get introduced, both consciously and subconsciously, into your daily life. You’ll see yourself become the best, most well-balanced version of yourself.

So go ahead. Get that beauty sleep — you’ll find life will become much more beautiful, and losing the dark circles under your eyes will just be the cherry on top! Source: Medium Writer

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