The Importance of Sleep

 

Sleep is as essential to our daily lives as eating and drinking. It is one of the most important pillars to our overall health, yet, its importance is scarcely discussed. Sleep quality is intrinsically connected to our quality of life, with a single sleepless night causing feelings of irritability and fogginess the following day. 

While one compromised sleep doesn’t come with extreme consequences, chronic sleep deprivation does, with its effects spanning across our cognitive, emotional, hormonal, cardiovascular, and immune health. Studies have found that the greater the degree of sleep deprivation, the greater the apparent adverse effects.

Despite this, it is estimated that 30% of adults get below the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Sleep is clearly an integral part of our well-being, so how could this be the case?

North America has glorified a work-focused, fast-paced culture. This mentality is coined as “hustle culture”, wherein sacrificing your moment-by-moment happiness and well-being for the promise of future success is celebrated. Hustle culture will try to convince you that working harder, faster, and stronger, coincides with greater success. When the to-do lists get longer, sleep is put on the back burner and justified as the one demand that can be “put off”. 

The values of hustle culture ironically reduce one’s productivity over time as the brain becomes overworked and struggles to function in its most optimal state. Sleep enhances memory, learning, problem-solving, creativity, emotional processing, and judgment. Contrary to what hustle culture may have you believe, a good quality sleep is a competitive edge. After all, it’s where we go to dream.

When we combine hustle culture with the overwhelming amount of stimulants and stressors in our modern world that inhibit sleep (think: coffee, artificial lights, and smartphones) it is no wonder why the average person is failing to value, and achieve a good night's rest.

Luckily, there are ways to optimize your sleep, despite the societal pressures and challenges that work against this. 

1. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

This helps to regulate your body’s “internal clock” and find its natural rhythm so that you can settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. It will help to habitually trigger your body into a state of rest at the same time each night.

2. Leave Work Outside of the Bedroom

Your bedroom should feel like a “sanctuary” that naturally provokes a sense of calm. You can enhance this by keeping your space clean, using essential oils, reading, and limiting electronic use. 

3. Avoid Food Before Bed & Stimulants in the Latter Half of the Day

Eating late at night forces our body to use its energy to digest the food, rather than drifting into a state of relaxation. Stimulants in the latter half of the day spike cortisol, increase alertness, and can disrupt your sleep patterns. 

4. Limit Exposure to Artificial Lights

When possible, limit your exposure to artificial lights (such as your phone, TV, and laptop) a couple of hours before bed. Amber tinted glasses can block blue light and help to trigger the production of melatonin. It is also possible to change the settings on your phone or laptop to emit a yellower tone of light instead of the typical whitish-blue. 

5. Adaptogens and Calming Elixirs 

Adaptogens help to calm the nervous system and mediate energy levels. They are best taken in tincture form or teas. Plus, a routine ritual in itself can help to relax and prepare you for bed.

A solid nighttime routine helps induce a good night’s sleep and rejuvenate you for the day ahead. Once you start experiencing the benefits of a good night’s rest, the necessity of it for your productivity, well-being, and health become clear - despite what the proponents of hustle culture may say.

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