Top 10 Reasons Why Sleep Is Important to Be Your Best

You likely don’t know all the reasons why sleep is important for productivity, leadership, and health! Find out why it’s critical to make it a priority!

I’m writing this post while the world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Families and friends haven’t seen each other in months. Kids are attending school virtually. Families are cooped up with limited social and entertainment options. And people are still getting sick and dying. 

There are so many things to worry about. It may not seem like sleep should be at the top of your priorities right now.

Sure, may be still be trying to improve your performance in various areas of your life.

Or you may be just trying to get through the day. 

But sleep is important for both of these.

Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

This could mean that you personally could need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you’re tired, sluggish and have low energy during the day, you’re likely not getting enough sleep.

I’ve made the mistake lately of ignoring sleep as a priority. Frankly, I’ve failed miserably lately at getting enough sleep. I’ve gone from my regular 8 hours a night to sometimes as low as (gasp) 5 hours of sleep. I blame some of it on Shonda Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy, and some for needing to work late at times.

Whatever the reason, I’ve shifted my bedtime to far too late.

And I feel it. I’m sluggish, not getting enough exercise, and there are a cascade of other impacts.

I can tell myself that it won’t really hurt. But I know I need more sleep.

So, I’m reminding myself why sleep is important. Lately we all need to remember the ways we need to take care of ourselves. And maybe now more than ever.

Why Sleep Is Important for Your Mind, Body, and Health

Here are top reasons why sleep is important for your overall health, wellbeing, and success. 

These reasons touch on many different areas. I want to do my best to persuade you to get all the sleep you need.

1. Sleep Improves Your Memory

For years, researchers have studied the role of sleep in forming memories. During sleep, your brain consolidates information you’ve taken in during the day to form long-term memories. Both slow wave sleep and REM sleep are important in this process. While sleeping, your brain transfers information from your hippocampus to your neocortex and carries out complex processes to help you form memories.

You’ll need this for day-to-day activities, and brain health throughout your life. 

So, whether you’re a life-long learner or a trivia buff, you can’t use that information if you can’t access it.

Sleep makes you smarter.

2. Quality Sleep Gives You More Energy

Sleep loss impacts your ability to access energy resources. You likely know firsthand that not getting enough sleep leaves you sluggish and tired.

And of course getting enough sleep can have the reverse effect. It will give you energy to feel great and accomplish your goals for the day.

This has an impact on your productivity, mood, and how you interact with others.

3. Increased Cognition and Productivity

why sleep is important

Lack of sleep makes it hard for you to concentrate and pay attention during the day. 

You won’t be able to thing or respond as quickly. This is because you have slowed brain processing when you’re sleep deprived.

If you’re eager to perform well throughout the day, put sleep on your list of priorities. Whether improving your leadership skills, working with your team on a project, or even preparing for a job interview, getting enough sleep will help.

Sleep is necessary for performing your best.

Getting enough sleep helps your brain and you’ll be far more productive during the day.

4. Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

Your immune system defends your body against illness and infection.

When you sleep, your body releases antibodies and proteins that help fight off infection. When you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have as many of these defenses to help you fight infection and illness. You increase your chance of getting sick after being exposed to viruses.

Plus, you can’t perform well when your body is working extra hard to fight off infection or illness. This is why sleep is important to your health and impacts many others areas of your life.

Sleep to stay healthy.

5. Improve Your Emotional Well-Being

Sleep helps you regulate your emotions. Getting enough sleep helps you manage how you respond to environmental stressors and manage your emotions throughout the day. This impacts your mood and how you feel. It can impact your communication and how you respond to others.

Some studies suggest that lack of sleep can lead to “irritability, aggression, and short temper.” If you’re dealing with conflict at work, or even just difficult team members, getting enough sleep increases your chance of success in challenging situations. 

Sleep is vital for emotional wellness.

Sleep to more easily manage your emotions.

6. Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a critical leadership trait. 

But it may surprise you to know that people with high emotional intelligence earn more money

Sleep not only impacts your ability to monitor and manage your own emotions. It can impact how well you’re able to monitor and respond to emotions in others. 

Empathy is important for understanding and relating well to others. Being able to judge and understand how others feel is a critical component of empathy.

Not getting enough sleep impairs your ability to recognize facial expressions of happiness and sadness in others. And if you’re sluggish and irritable already, you’re far less likely to have healthy interactions with others.

Sleep supports strong emotional intelligence, which is critical for great leadership.

7. Lack of Sleep May Increase Depression

Many studies link depression to lack of sleep and poor sleep quality.

Since lack of sleep can result in increased stress, irritability, and how well you manage your moods, it also leaves you vulnerable to developing depression. 

People who aren’t depressed and have insomnia are at an increased risk for developing depression. 

This doesn’t only impact work performance. It’s a quality of life factor and can even lead to suicide. This is serious business.

Sleep could save your life.

8. Helps You Regulate Calorie Intake

Anecdotally, I can firmly state that I make better food choices and eat fewer calories when I’ve had enough sleep. When I’m sleepy and sluggish I look to sugar and carbs to give me a boost of energy. I eat when I’m not really hungry. I make poor high-calorie food choices.

Others have told me the same thing.

And I remember friends telling me during college that eating helps them stay awake when they need to drive long distances or study late.

When you’re tired you have less impulse control and it’s harder to resist cravings for sugar and carbs.

So whether you’re motivated to manage your weight, or eat healthy for overall good health, getting enough sleep will help you reach that daily goal.

Sleep is important for making good food choices and not overeating.

9. Improves Heart Health

I’ve focused a lot on why sleep is important to your brain. Sleep is also important for your heart.

The CDC reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Not getting enough sleep increases your chance of getting it.

The exact process isn’t fully understood and researchers are working to get a clearer picture of the connection.

Research on sleep quality in mice has shown that after 16 weeks, sleep-disrupted mice have larger arterial plaque. 

This suggests brain hormones produced during sleep help protect your blood vessels.

This is why sleep is important for heart health. 

Once again, sleep could save your life.

10. Lack of Sleep Can Make You Look Older

This might be the extra motivation you need to get enough sleep.

One study of older adults found that “not getting enough sleep…activates important biological pathways that promote biological aging.”

Nooooo!

Estee Lauder commissioned a study to look at how sleep quality impacts the skin and aging. This study demonstrated that “inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.”

It’s like the OPPOSITE of the Fountain of Youth.

This isn’t directly linked to performance and reaching your goals. But it may be the argument that persuades you to get to bed earlier for all those other benefits.

Get your beauty sleep.

Summary

We tend to overcomplicate things when we’re trying to improve our lives. But it turns out something as basic as sleep can offer you so many benefits. 

You need sleep for brain health, heart health, mood, career, and quality of life.

Getting sleep makes you happy, smart, and pretty. 

And it’s free.

Next time you’re tempted to stay up way past your bedtime, remember why sleep is important, turn off Netflix, and go to bed.

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