Sleep plays an integral part in your overall health and well-being. Obtaining the appropriate quality and quantity of sleep is essential for your body's function. You can protect your quality of life and mental and physical health with adequate rest. Let's uncover why getting enough high-quality sleep is crucial for your health and productivity.
The science behind sleep
The National Sleep Foundation reports that sleep deprivation is a common problem among adults worldwide. According to their survey, almost one-third of adults sleep less than seven hours during the night. They also report that people usually need between seven and eight hours of sleep daily.
According to recent research, obtaining adequate sleep with high quality during the right time would improve physical and mental health and overall safety and quality of life. This report busts the myth that we could still function similarly even with minimal sleep.
Getting enough sleep is essential when you have to stand out among your colleagues and competitors. That happens because your sleep quality affects your body on various levels. Sleep quality may alter your thinking speed, attention, concentration, and creativity.
Sleep has always been familiar to us, an integral part of life, but it is easy to break a healthy sleep schedule. First, during sleep, your body reorganizes your brain, allowing it to declutter, get rid of stress, and relive memories & emotions. Besides, when you're asleep, your brain is awake, conveying complex chemical processes, regulating mood & stress hormones, and recovering your body cells.
Factors that affect your sleep
Before we delve deeper into the effects of sleep deficiency on the body, let's look at basic notions about sleep.
Rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) are the two main types of sleep. Dreaming happens when you are in the REM stage of sleep. Meanwhile, NREM is known as slow-wave sleep or deep sleep. In a regular cycle, REM and NREM happen in a pattern of three to five cycles every night.
The total amount of sleep influences your ability to function during the day. At the same time, your productivity and motivation depend on how much sleep you get at every sleep stage.
Sleep stages role in your sleep routine
1. NREM sleep stage
This sleep stage starts right after falling asleep. It also consists of 3 steps, from dozing off to deep sleep. NREM sleep, also called "deep" or "slow-wave" sleep, is the most restful type of slumber. It helps the body in different ways than REM sleep.
NREM can increase your energy levels, help with muscle recovery and help with memory formation by clearing brain waste like old proteins and peptides that build up while awake. NREM involves the deepest sleep stage, so your body is the most relaxed.
The brain produces delta waves during the NREM sleep stage, which are very slow brain waves. Delta waves inhibit the neurons and help you to achieve deep sleep. The body's temperature drops as blood flow slows down to conserve heat (which is why you feel a shiver when somebody touches you). Breathing becomes more regular, and your heart finally gets the relaxation it deserves.
2. REM sleep stage
The REM sleep stage starts around 90 minutes after your fall asleep. The best way to think about this sleep stage is to consider it a time when your brain deals with new information and memories.
It helps you process what happened during your day and ensures you don't forget anything. REM Sleep is also responsible for giving us energy which is why we sometimes have difficulty waking up or feel like zombies in the morning. Suppose you don't get enough REM sleep. In that case, you will feel tired and unfocused the next day, eventually leading to other health problems such as fatigue, depression, or even weight gain.
How do your sleep patterns define your energy & productivity?
Your sleep depends on many factors, like your daily activity, sun exposure, and melatonin production in your body. You can naturally regulate your melatonin production by following a sleep routine that includes bright light in the morning and dark at night.
Your mood and feelings are greatly influenced by what occurs during your sleep. When you sleep, it's the perfect time for the body to function and work in supporting the various body systems. Numerous physiologic processes during sleep help support brain functioning and physical health.
It's up to you to find the right balance for your life. You can ensure you're getting enough sleep or at least tweaking your habits to get the sleep quality you need.
Your circadian clock & sleep
We have a 24-hour circadian clock that signals when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake. Some people are more in tune with their circadian clock than others and find it easy to adhere to an optimal regimen. Meanwhile, other people struggle with staying up late and conking out early, no matter how much they try.
Your body clock regulates your circadian rhythm and the patterns in your behaviors. Any physical, mental, and environmental changes like sleep/wake cycles, hormone secretion, and light exposure might affect it. So if you want to get your sleep schedule back on track, it's worth resetting your body clock.
Moreover, your body clocks rely on light exposure to maintain a steady sleep schedule. That is why different types of light have other effects on your sleep routine. For instance, sunlight can make it easier for you to wake up in the morning. In contrast, nighttime blue light may suppress melatonin levels and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
You may also experience irregular sleep cycles if you travel across time zones or stay up late. Those who have to work rotational shifts, like overnight workers or truck drivers that don't have time for a sleep schedule, will also find it challenging to catch up on sleep. Their body clock just won't go along with the ability to get quality sleep. If you want proper rest, sometimes it's best to focus on what our body needs and when it needs it.
Dangerous Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
The body has an internal "body clock" that manages our sleep-wake cycle. It regulates when your body is prepared to wake up and sleep. The circadian rhythm follows a 24-hour repeating cycle. It is known to affect the regulation of how the cells and tissues work in our body.
Suppose you aren't going to obtain adequate sleep or trying to sleep when your body isn't yet prepared. Feeling haggard and stressed would be the result upon waking. In that case, tiredness will ensure the following day. Fatigue could also occur when you aren't getting a night of good quality sleep.
Poor sleep impacts your productivity
The fatigue and stress you feel when you arise could significantly impact your performance at work. Lack of sleep could also affect daily activities such as driving, eating, or mingling with your friends or workmates. Trouble focusing, reacting, and learning is symptoms when you're sleep-deprived.
If you lack sleep, judging other people's feelings, reactions, and emotions can become challenging. More evidently, if one lacks sleep, they tend to feel cranky, easily irritated, and frustrated around social gatherings or situations.
Poor sleep affects your body's recovery process & leads to injuries
Having not enough sleep is also linked with increased chances of obtaining injuries. One example would be driving during sleepy and tired states. According to a 2017 study from Oxford University, ten percent of car crash injuries refer to driver sleepiness.
When you become sleep deficient, your body won't usually recover, leading to extreme fatigue, "brain fog," and daytime sleepiness. Poor sleep routines may lead to higher risks of developing chronic health conditions, obesity, or diabetes. Sleep deficiency could also significantly affect how you work, learn and think.
Inability to focus, stress, and lack of sleep are the most common reasons for untoward incidents. Additionally, lack of sleep causes human errors that lead to tragic accidents. In the work setting, it can significantly affect work performance. A person with inadequate sleep may produce less output that only meets the bare minimum.
Improve your sleep patterns
As a career person, sleep may be the last of your priorities. However, taking time to sleep will improve your health and stamina instead of being groggy and irritated while at work. Having enough slumber could help you improve your focus and attention. You will become more productive and successful in your field after a good night's sleep.
There are several steps you can take to improve your sleep patterns. One way is to establish a regular bedtime routine or routine for falling asleep. It means setting a time when you must be in bed and trying not to engage in any activity. Yeah, no TV watching, reading, or working on your computer before this time. You should also try and limit caffeine after 5 PM, avoid heavy meals before bedtime, and alcohol before the hour before bedtime.
Having a quality sleep could also uplift your mood. You find that you are happier and more patient when you have a whole night's sleep. That is why you have to prioritize sleep despite your busy schedule and everyday goals.
The concept of an ideal sleep routine can differ depending on the individual. Still, for most people, it looks like creating an environment conducive to everyday activity and giving yourself time to wind down from a stressful day. Sleep hygiene may help some people with sleep problems, but there are treatments for severe insomnia or sleep apnea. Always consult a doctor if you face a sleep issue.
Finding the proper sleep routine and hygiene that fits you can help improve your sleep quality. If you're not having a restful night, try taking small steps to achieve better sleep hygiene.
Tips to improve your sleeping habits:
- Set a specific sleeping and waking time. Go to sleep at a particular time and do the same upon waking up. Putting routines could also help set your mind that you are about to sleep.
- Stick to the schedule. If you are going to sleep in or stay up later than usual, limit the difference to just an hour. Even during weeknights, do your best to maintain your specific sleeping time and wake.
- Avoid eating before sleeping. Light snacks are acceptable, but consuming heavy meals before bedtime would make you feel fuller. It will keep you up instead of doing the opposite.
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine. Intake of foods, including soda, sugar, tea, and alcoholic beverages, could interfere with your sleep. These are known stimulants that could lead to difficulty falling asleep.
- Perform your rituals. Having rituals such as taking a hot bath before sleeping or drinking warm milk, meditation, or other relaxation techniques could help you fall asleep better during the night.
- Make naps your daily habit. Power naps are vital because they boost your energy, alertness, and focus. When you have spare time, try your best to squeeze in a quick nap to recharge and increase your stamina and performance.
- Set the alarm for waking up and going to bed. It's hard to organize your sleep routine when you have a lot in mind. But setting up an alarm reminding you to sleep will be helpful here.
- Avoid eating and drinking before sleep. Go to bed with a clear mind and empty stomach to enhance your sleep quality.
- Take 10 minutes daily for a nap. Even if it seems impossible to find a free minute within your schedule, even a 10-minute nap in a chair will make you more energized.
- Start getting to bed earlier. If you are trying to sleep earlier, you should start by reducing your waking hours. It will gradually decrease the time it takes to get used to bed earlier and wake up later at your desired time. Some people may want to start by heading to bed 10-15 minutes earlier every day.
- Don't sleep in on the weekend. Most of us sleep long on weekends to avoid staying up late and disrupting our sleep patterns. Yet, your body relies on a strict circadian rhythm that tells it when to sleep and wake up. So, if you want to keep your sleep regimen in check, try not to stay up late on weekends so that you may have fixed sleep hours for the upcoming week.
- Fix your bedding and bedroom environment. Make sure your bedroom thermostat is at a reasonable temperature. Set up your bed correctly by using a mattress with enough support, a good pillow (something that fits your head), and soft & breathable sheets. Ensure you have well-fitted bedding in the right size, including duvets, blankets, or comforters.