Chances are you know how awful you feel when you are not
getting enough sleep, but on the flipside, have you ever had run of good sleep,
and felt amazing? Sleep makes you feel good in a surprising number of ways:
1. So creative!
You go to sleep worrying over a problem, and when you wake
up, the answer seems obvious.
According to Professor Penny Lewis from Cardiff University,
the two main phases of sleep – REM and non-REM – work together to help us find
out-of-the-box solutions to problems.
During non-REM sleep, millions of neurons fire
simultaneously and strongly while your brain replays memories. As your brain
reruns the memories, it makes links and connections to make sense of patterns.
During REM sleep, it all gets more chaotic, says Lewis.
Different parts of your brain become activated, seemingly at random. Lewis
suggests this allows your brain to search for similarities between seemingly
unrelated concepts, so you can see a problem in a different way.
2. Better reaction times
Like a superhero in a movie, you will find your reflexes and
reactions are sharper. Even if your job does not involve split-second
decisions, your reaction times can still be a matter of life and death. Every
time you get behind the wheel of a car, your reflexes matter.
According to the Sleep Foundation, if you skip a night’s
sleep, your impairment is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1% - that
is double the legal limit.
3. Laser sharp memory
When you get enough sleep, you will find you retain
information more easily. You read it once, and you remember it. You no longer
have that mental blank trying to remember that password – or forgetting why you
walked into the kitchen.
Harvard Health says both animal and human studies suggest
that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and
memory. Sleep helps you focus and learn, and it helps you consolidate memories.
4. Brighter mood
Sleep affects your mood, and your mood can affect how well
Disturbed sleep is one of the first symptoms of depression.
Conversely, chronically poor sleep can lead to depression. A study published in
Sleep Journal in 2007 found that out of 10,000 adults, people with
insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.
Another study by the University of Pennsylvania found that
subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week
reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the
subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.
* 17 March is World Sleep Day.
Improve your sleep, improve your mood
If you struggle with sleep and stress, the last thing you
want to hear is that insomnia can exacerbate depression and anxiety. But it can
help to know what you are dealing with, and to know there are many proven
tactics and strategies you can use to improve your sleep.
If you are worried about your sleep, Harvard Medical School
advises you first look at your sleep habits. Their recommendations include:
- maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule
- avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals
that interfere with sleep
- making your bedroom a comfortable sleep environment
- establishing a calming pre-sleep routine
- going to sleep when you are truly tired
- not watching the clock at night
- not napping too close to your regular bedtime
- eating and drinking enough – but not too much or too soon
- exercising regularly – but not too soon before bedtime