Many people are negligent about getting enough sleep because they don’t truly understand the benefits they’re getting from it. So what is sleep? And why is it important? Well, defining sleep is a lot like trying to define life.
Sleep is actually defined as a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli.
That sounds a little weird, but the most important takeaway is that it’s a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body. If you’re not doing it, then you’re being completely unnatural. And, nobody likes unnatural people.
What’s more important is knowing the big prizes that sleep gives you. Generally, being awake is catabolic (breaks you down) and sleep is anabolic (builds you up). Sleep is known to be an elevated anabolic state, heightening the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal, and muscular systems. Basically, sleep rebuilds you and keeps you youthful.
High quality sleep fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases physical energy, and improves the function of your brain. Without all of the essential benefits that sleep is providing, you will never, I repeat never, have the body and life you want without giving your body the right amount of sleep.
In our culture, sleep is not respected very much at all. As a matter of fact, we are often programmed with the idea that to be successful we need to work harder, sleep less, and we can catch up on all the sleep we want when we’re dead. To say sleep is not respected is really an understatement.
Working hard is unarguably a big part of being successful, but so is working smart. So many people in our world today go on plugging away with work, burning the candle at both ends, not realizing that the quality of work they’re doing is being radically compromised. Research shows that after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of six percent in glucose reaching the brain. Simple translation: You get dumber.
This is also why you crave candy, chips, donuts, and other starchy, sugary things when you’re sleep deprived. You’re body is trying to compel you to get that glucose back to your brain as soon as possible. It’s a built-in survival mechanism.
This is inherent in our genes because, in our days as hunter-gatherers, that lack of brainpower could mean a swift death from a predator or a substantially reduced ability to hunt and procure your own food for survival. Today a simple trip to the refrigerator can bypass your body’s cry for more sleep, but those stress mechanisms are still alive and well within your body right now.
The most valuable takeaway from this sleep deprivation “brain drain” discovery is that the reduction in glucose isn’t shared equally. Your parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex actually lose 12 to 14 percent of their glucose when you don’t sleep. These are the areas of the brain we most need for thinking, for distinguishing between ideas, for social control, and to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Have you ever made a poor decision when you were up late at night that you wouldn’t have made if your head was on right? Chances are you have.
It wasn’t entirely your fault. Your brain was hijacked by a dumber (and slightly less attractive) version of yourself.
Always remember the value of your sleep. You will perform better, make better decisions, and have a better body when you get the sleep you require. Sleep is not an obstacle we need to go around, it’s a natural state your body requires to boost your hormone function, heal your muscles, tissues and organs, and make your mind work at it’s optimal level. The shortcut to success is not made by bypassing dreamland. You will factually work better, be more efficient, and get more stuff done when you’re properly rested.
There’s a big difference between “working” and actually being effective. By sacrificing your sleep, you can definitely do more work, but the quality and effectiveness of your work will be sacrificed. A physician study published in The Lancet proved that sleep-deprived individuals took 14 percent longer to complete a task, and made 20 percent more errors than individuals who were well rested.
Structure your time to get more sleep first and you’ll be able to get your work done faster and more effectively than if you zombie walked your way through it.
Sleep Power Tip
When you know you’ve got a big task, project, or event coming up, pull out a calendar and plan ahead how you can get your ideal number of sleep hours in. Often times it’s as simple as setting up a schedule. But, people overlook it because, well, it’s just too easy.
If it’s important to you, you’ll schedule it. Stick to that schedule as well as you can, and know that you will get the work done better and faster if you’re more rested. We usually sacrifice our sleep to cram in more work because we didn’t plan efficiently. And as the wise Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”