Sleep: The Most Important Eight Hours of Your Day

Restful and sufficient sleep

It’s after work on Friday, and there’s so much to do. Maybe catch that late night movie that just started. Or maybe get some drinks with friends. Saturday is a day off, so it’s fine to lose some sleep, right? Once or twice might be fine, but there are many health reasons why our bodies need the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Appropriate sleep not only helps the body recharge, but even has significant effects on memory. Sleep not only helps your brain remember what happened during the day better, but it also helps recall past information better too. Restful sleep helps us with our reaction time and helps maintain a generally positive temperament throughout the day as well.

A lack of sleep can also lead to both short- and long-term health problems. According to WebMD, people who don’t get sufficient amounts of sleep experience colds and flus much more often than people who do. And that’s just the short term. Weight gain, diabetes and heart disease are also linked, over the long term, with long periods of sleep deprivation. In women, sleep deprivation can cause serious problems during pregnancy and menopause too.

Interrupted sleep can also be just as negative, or worse, than no sleep. Consistent interrupted sleep can lead to depression and lack of motivation. It also causes problems with focusing, and strains our being able to pay attention to details. Not only that, but just ONE night of sufficiently interrupted sleep can cause these effects for a few days. Sleep should be peaceful and continuous.

Napping isn’t just for children and college students, either. Napping for 10 to 30 minutes can improve alertness and performance, and also won’t interfere with your regular nightly sleep. The best time to take a brief nap is a short while after eating lunch, when the body feels a sort of “eating fatigue.” Just be careful to set an alarm, and to leave yourself a little time to wake back up. Running right back to work the moment a nap is over while you are still groggy isn’t ideal.

Everyone has nights when we don’t get the amount of sleep that we should. Skipping out to have fun every once in a while is perfectly fine. Just remember that even machines need to turn off and recharge their batteries sometimes. For us, restful and sufficient sleep is the best way to keep ourselves healthy, strong and feeling pleasant during our day. Don’t worry — you can always catch that movie on Saturday.