The Importance of Sleep

In my book, there are two types of people: those who NEED sleep and those who don’t. Personally, I LOVE sleep. Always have. I have accepted the fact that I need 7-8 hours of good sleep a night in order to function well the next day.  Western and Eastern medicines agree that a good night’s sleep is paramount to our well-being, both mentally and physically.

When we are tired, we tend to be less productive and less happy.  We can’t think as well, solve problems as easily or perform at peak physical levels. Not to mention that our reflexes tend to be slower when sleep-deprived, putting us, and others, more at risk for accidents (long term sleep deprivation can also lead to depression, cardiovascular problems, illnesses, and obesity).

When we are well-rested, we think more clearly and can concentrate for longer periods of time, focus more easily and solve problems better. In addition, sleep seems to act as a mood stabilizer. Well-rested people tend to be less irritable, more patient and overall happier.

Sleep is important for every single aspect of our bodies, all the way down to the cellular level.  While we rest, our bodies release certain hormones and that help repair cells. While we sleep, the various processes at work help prevent disease (stroke, diabetes) and inflammation (arthritis), enhance our athletic performances and help us maintain a healthy weight.

Even though everyone is different, on average, children need about 10 hours of sleep, while teenagers need about 9 hours and most adults need 7 to 8 hours.

As we all know, many things can disrupt sleep: noise, stimulants (caffeine, medications, electronics), temperature and our minds.

Having a bedtime routine can help set the tone for a good night’s sleep. Here are a few suggestions for you:

  • Try not to eat too late in the day
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine in the afternoon or evening
  • Take a relaxing bath or shower
  • Have a comfortable mattress and pillows and optimize your bedroom set-up to avoid overexposure to noise and light
  • Set the appropriate temperature in your bedroom
  • Relax and clear your mind. Practice some deep breathing or meditation
  • Set-up and maintain a regular wake-up routine even on weekends
  • Avoid drinking excessive fluids or exercising right before bedtime