The Importance of Sleep

Posted at 12:02 PM on Mar 7, 2024

When your daily to-do list is endless, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice to be able to get more done. However, more studies are being published on the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation is negatively impacting our overall health. Sleep deprivation is now considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing/linked). 

Not only are we more sleep-deprived than ever, but in general most of us are more stressed-out than ever before. Combined, increased stress and decreased sleep, we now have a dangerous pairing that has some very alarming negative impacts on the body.

The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep - Why We Need It

Sleep is important, you have undoubtedly heard this many times and have likely brushed it off, rolling your eyes at the idea of actually getting 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. However, we hope to change your mind by providing more education on why we need it. “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH. This means that sleep impacts every part of the human body.

Adults who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night are more likely to report difficulty concentrating, remembering, and even driving. Studies have shown that a week of sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night have similar effects on performance as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1%.

According to the Sleep Foundation, “We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Exactly how this happens and why our bodies are programmed for such a long period of slumber is still somewhat of a mystery. But scientists do understand some of sleep's critical functions, and the reasons we need it for optimal health and wellbeing.” Meaning, we should think of sleep as mandatory active recovery time. Your body needs this time to function optimally. Without this recovery time for your body, you may experience numerous negative side effects.

Signs You May Be Lacking Sleep

  • Mental fogginess/inability to focus or concentrate
  • Feeling sluggish 
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling fatigued throughout the day
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased libido

Read more in our articles “How Lack of Sleep Impacts the Brain and Body” and “What is Sleep Deprivation and What Does It Do to the Body?”

Make Sleep a Priority

The list is truly endless on how lack of sleep negatively impacts the body, so the take-home message is to make sure you are making sleep a priority. Think of your bedtime as a non-negotiable meeting that you can’t miss. We get it, it’s not always possible to increase the number of hours you can dedicate to sleep, but what about if you can sleep better? The good news is you can learn more about natural ways to sleep better here.

Remember, to live optimally you need to get the optimal amount of active recovery - sleep.