5 Reasons to Get More Sleep

In the past I have been guilty of skimping on this precious commodity. Loving a sense of accomplishment, I used to almost always try to cross one more thing off my to-do list before my head hit the pillow.  In the morning I’d also set my alarm 20-30 minutes earlier to finish something before my day “officially” began. Sure I was the poster child for a “how to get more done in a day” blog post, but I was consistently walking around exhausted! Over time I realized that I was sacrificing my physical and emotional well-being for the sake of efficiency and…Somewhere over the last few years I realized that was no longer a trade-off I was willing to make.  Here’s what changed for me when I gave myself the gift of a few more ZZZs.

A Higher Level of Concentration – I didn’t make the connection when I was sacrificing sleep, but I was very easily distracted. My mind would wander if I was attending a lecture or if someone was telling a story with a wee bit too much detail. I would get up and walk into another room to do something and forget what that something was. Or I would stop in the middle of a sentence because I forgot what I wanted to say. After I had a few consistent evenings of more sleep, I made the connection that a bit more sleep allowed me to better focus on what I was doing, hearing or saying.  Some of the mental fog had lifted.  I assure you, getting slightly less done in a day was a small price to pay for being more alert and present.

More Pep in Each Step – Ahhh…I remember it well. The mid-afternoon slump.  For me it arrived sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. and brought with it the desire for a mid-afternoon cat nap or a caffeine pick-me-up. Not surprising. The truth is that sleep loss results in a major energy drain. Studies show that with as little as half an hour of sleep missed, you have less available energy clear into the next day. What’s more the snooze button may look more appealing and, when you do get up, you will probably do so with less gusto and enthusiasm.  Adding as little as 45 minutes each night has not only lessened my late afternoon lethargy but it’s also made me more amenable to my alarm clock. It has also helped to keep those nasty, little afternoon sugar cravings at bay. Which brings me to the next benefit…

A Beauty Benefit – There’s no question about it. Sleep helps you look better. Chances are, if you’ve missed a few ZZZs, you’ve found yourself with red or puffy eyes and/or dark circles. You may have also found that your complexion looks a wee bit drab and lifeless. The truth is our body boosts blood flow to the skin when we snooze which gives us more of a healthy glow in the a.m.  I don’t know about you, but I was tired (no pun intended) of waking up not only feeling – but looking – exhausted. What’s more I realized that I wasn’t fooling anyone with makeup and here’s why.  When we skimp on sleep, we not only loose a bit of our visual vitality, our facial expressions change in subtle, yet consistent ways.  We tend to “furrow and frown” which can be a telltale sign to others that we’re irritable and tired. (And who wants to be around someone like that??)

An Improved Mood – I consider myself a pretty easy-going kind of gal.  But when I was running short on sleep, admittedly I was a bit cranky – and dare I say – reactive.  My emotions were not at all on an even keel and I was more “sensitive” to things that ordinarily wouldn’t have bothered me. I’ve since read that people who sleep less have a higher rate of stress hormones that can wreak havoc on your waking hours. I have noticed that, even with just a little bit more sleep each night, I feel happier, more even-tempered and better able (at least emotionally) to tackle whatever comes my way.  (I am quite sure that those closest to me have noticed as well – smile.)

A Clean Bill of Health – Now I’m not saying that getting more sleep is a guarantee, but…Studies show that there is a link between an insufficient amount sleep and some significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  I am no health expert but I do understand how more sleep can reduce levels of stress which I know contributes to the aforementioned.  As for myself…I can honestly say that I’ve experienced fewer colds, sore throats and headaches since adding more ZZZs.  A medical wonder!

So for all you highly productive, get more-done-in-less time types who think that sleep is a waste of time, think again. Sleep is a key factor in your emotional and physical well-being.  So rather than finishing up that report or answering those last few emails, power down…and rest up~

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