One profound take-away of the past few years has been the importance of home as our sanctuary. Comfort and security have been given their due in a time of global uncertainty. Now that some semblance of normalcy seems to be returning and we're feeling hopeful and optimistic again, it's a wonderful opportunity to ponder our goals going forward. A healthier diet, less stress and a calmer outlook typically top the list of "be better" resolutions, but what if we were to tell you that all 3 of these things (and so much more!) are directly related to the quality of your sleep?
Sleep is one thing we seem to delay with fervor. We fight the heavy eyelids, correct the nodding head, do our best to resist our body's insistence that the time has come to surrender to sleep. We're always intent on squeezing in one more episode, finishing up one more chapter, shooting off one more e-mail, only to invariably regret it in the morning. Jostled out of sleep by a blaring alarm, eyes glazed and tired, head heavy with the weight of unfinished dreams - how often do we wish for just one more hour of sleep?
A team of researchers in the Netherlands have coined this phenomenon "sleep procrastination," a name fitting of the cycle: it's not that we can't sleep, it's that we're doing everything in our power to avoid it. The team is still researching why this behaviour is so prevalent, but what we know for sure is that there is a lot to be gained from breaking the procrastination cycle and improving our quality of sleep.
Besides the immediate unpleasantness of grumpy, groggy mornings and the irritability that follows, poor or inadequate sleep impacts a range of factors in our day-to-day lives. Sleep is directly related to our cognitive processes, impacting our ability to commit information to memory and learn new concepts & skills. Sleepy heads feel foggy and struggle to retain information, while well rested minds perform better on skill and retention tests later. Better sleep = better recall.
In addition to our mental faculties, sleep has a direct impact on our physical selves as well, playing a hand in health & immunity as well as appearance and even weight management. Sleep deprivation impacts immune function and has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, while prioritizing quality sleep has been supposed to boost immunity and even help fight cancer.
From improved mood to a metabolic boost, there's no shortage of reasons to prioritize better sleep. Whether it requires breaking old habits, keeping devices out of the bedroom, sticking to a consistent bedtime, or investing in a new pillow or the perfect set of sheets, improving the quality of your sleep is guaranteed to help improve the quality of your life.