I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sleeping – That good, quality, recharging sleep – Isn’t a luxury, it’s a right.
In the go-go pace of the 21st century, sleeping has been devalued. Do you guys remember the fascinations with “super sleepers” a few years ago? The Wall Street Journal reported that there is a group of seemingly elite power-players who claim to only need minimal sleep per night (as little as 20-minute power naps to recharge).
Suddenly, there was a fervor to maximize one’s downtime – And those who needed more than a cat nap once a day felt marginalized, less-than.
I want to be really clear: MOST adults need between 6 hours and 8 hours per night to function at their highest potential. And, as my daughter says, there’s no shame in the game.
There is growing evidence that lack of sleep has consequences stretching far beyond basic energy. Obesity, contribution to depression, increased likelihood of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, weakened immune response, as well as the obvious effects on mood, impaired brain activity and memory functions.
Sleeping is your body’s way of recharging. It’s a natural function, as human as eating and breathing. We simply aren’t built to be 24-hour machines. Take a moment and ask yourself: When was the last time you felt fully rested, when you woke up without feeling sluggish or inclined to hit that snooze button again?
I once met a young woman who guiltily admitted that she preferred 8-9 hours a sleep a night. “Like an infant,” she said, almost apologizing for her desire to care for her body. She explained that after years of crashing and burning in college and her early twenties, she learned to prioritize sleep in her life. She stopped watching television, adjusted her work schedule, streamlined her life … All so she could have a predictable sleep schedule. I admired her dedication to self care, although she felt the need to apologize for it.
Societally, we burn the candle at both ends. We encourage each other to push beyond healthy boundaries, enduring professional and personal loads at the sacrifice of our wellbeing. But the longterm effects of lack of sleep have serious consequences: Insufficient, low-quality sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
So, although it may seem difficult today, I encourage you all to prioritize sleep in your life. If you can’t dedicate more time to sleeping, you can control your environment to allow for more thorough sleep. Because amazing, life-changing, battery fueling sleep isn’t just for teenagers!