Our society puts a high value on achievement but not much on rest. I hear people brag about how much they work and play but never how much they sleep—usually the opposite. But what if sleep could help you achieve more?
Four Crucial Ways Sleep Helps Us Achieve More
Sleep keeps us sharp. How many times have you gone blank in a meeting, nodded at your desk, or forgot where you were going? It’s happened to me more than I’d like to admit. Skimping on sleep—even a little—can dramatically impair our mental performance, creating fatigue, inability to focus, slow reaction times, and more.Did you know that in one study test subjects going on six hours of sleep a night for two weeks functioned at the same level of impairment as someone legally drunk? But those who got eight hours demonstrated no impairment at all.
Sleep improves our ability to remember, learn, and grow. I’m sure brain teasers are fine, but adequate sleep is the best learning tool there is.Our minds are particularly active when we sleep, integrating new information learned during the day, processing memories, and sorting the significant from all the meaningless stuff we pick up. Even dreaming is critical to this process. If our work depends on our creativity and insight—and whose doesn’t?—then sleep is essential.
Sleep refreshes our emotional state. I’ve mentioned before a time I felt really discouraged after a lot of travel. When I told Gail, she suggested weariness was the real culprit.Nothing can make us feel depressed, moody, and irritable like missing sleep. Here’s the good news: Getting enough sleep is like hitting the reset button. In his book Eat Move Sleep, Tom Rath explains that sleep reduces stress chemicals in the brain and dials back the part of the brain that processes emotions. The result is that we can start fresh if we invest in our sleep.
Sleep revitalizes our bodies. We all have a body clock. When we ignore its signals to play longer or work more, we create unnecessary stress, and that stress contributes to depression, fatigue, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a lot worse.But sleep lowers the stress chemicals in our bodies, boosts our immune system, and improves our bodies’ metabolism. Instead of waking unrested after putting in extra hours on a project, why not wake approach it recharged the next day? You’ll do better work and feel better about it.