There’s no question that sleep is vital to your health and well-being. It’s the time when your brain and body take a break from day-to-day activity to repair and recharge. Researchers are only beginning to understand all of the ways that sleep is necessary and beneficial, but it’s clear that getting enough sleep supports almost every system in your body – including immune function, metabolism, memory and learning.
A good night’s sleep also helps with mental clarity, focus and decision making. Having a regular bedtime and waking up at the same time each day can help you to settle in, calm your thoughts and fall into a deep and restful sleep. A relaxing pre-bedtime routine, such as a warm bath, meditation or reading can help to quiet your brain and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Getting too little sleep can impact your mood, causing anxiety, depression and feelings of stress. It can also lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, it has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Insufficient sleep can also impact your driving ability, leading to drowsy driving, which is a serious safety issue. Studies show that a lack of sleep reduces reaction times and impairs judgment, causing a person to be at a greater risk for accidents.
Research has found that teens with higher grades tend to have a more consistent and healthy sleep schedule, going to bed earlier on school nights and sleeping in later on weekends than students with lower grades. A lack of sleep is also known to interfere with academic performance, resulting in poorer memory and an inability to concentrate and think abstractly.
If you’re struggling with a lack of sleep, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can offer you advice or refer you to a sleep specialist if needed.
It is common to hear the advice that you should get eight hours of sleep each night to feel rested in the morning, but it’s important to know that everyone’s needs are different. “Aiming for more than you need could actually make you feel groggy and not rested,” says Shelby Harris, licensed clinical psychologist and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis.
Many factors can affect your sleep, including your daily habits, such as your diet and exercise routines and how you relax before bedtime. Getting more sleep can be as simple as sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, exercising regularly and spending more time outdoors. You can also try to limit your screen time and practice a relaxing sleep ritual. The key is to find what works for you and stick with it.