It’s clear that people need sleep, because we feel awful if we don’t get enough. It can be tempting to stay up late and catch up on the latest Netflix film, even though we are fully aware of the negative effects this may have the next day.
Knowing the benefits of quality sleep might help you change some of those ‘night owl’ habits and Sleep Awareness Week is a great time to take stock of your own sleeping habits.
Have a think back to the last time you didn’t get much sleep. What can you remember about the day before? If you struggled to remember, that might be because there is a link between our memory, sleep, and performance the next day.
Sleep helps us to solidify memories by strengthening connections and moving information around parts of the brain. Studies have repeatedly shown that people who get plenty of sleep improve their performance in tasks, not only because their body is rested, but also because the memory has stuck.
Sleep also helps our mind in other ways. Ever heard the phrase ‘sleep on it’? This is fantastic advice for coming up with new ideas, because creativity and problem solving improves with some quality shut-eye. Sleep works like an incubation time to help solve problems, and often by allowing our minds to wander, we can more easily find a solution.
Your concentration and productivity levels are also significantly impacted by how much you sleep. Trying to focus at work when you’re tired becomes almost impossible. Without enough sleep, it becomes harder to concentrate and your overall reaction time is slowed, so functioning in a hazardous environment can be dangerous to yourself and others – -it’s safer for everyone for you to get those ZZZ’s.
Sleep helps our brains by solidifying memories, increasing concentration and productivity, forming new ideas, and performing at its best. But sleep also has many other benefits such as:
- maintaining your weight (calorie regulation)
- lowering the risk for diabetes
- helping to keep your heart healthy
- lowering your blood pressure
- boosting your immune system
- improving athletic performance
- reducing stress
- improving your mood
- improving mental health
The long and short-term benefits of a good night’s sleep seriously outweigh the benefits of staying up late! Put down the remote, set your alarm, and leave your phone alone. Take yourself off to bed and reap the rewards.
For more information and sleep support visit www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au