No Sleep Is No Joke! Why Adequate Sleep Matters for Health & Performance

In my last post, “An Invitation to Stillness,” I wrote about the power of stillness in a culture that champions activity and productivity above all. Stillness for many means mindlessly browsing the internet, incessantly checking the news and social media, watching TV, or engaging in other forms of distraction that offer no rest for the brain and body.

Sometimes we make rest negotiable and other times we forget how to do it. Many of us underestimate the body’s need for sleep, especially since we’re committed to staying “busy.” Turn the phrase “don’t just sit there, do something” on it’s head to embrace “don’t just do something, sit there.” With the perception that we need to accomplish so much work while also balancing career, family, and personal obligations, we feel pressure to “get it all done” in a day. Too often we compromise our sleep to fit more in, but what are we actually accomplishing? If we learn how to properly rest, we can do less while becoming healthier, more productive, and live more fulfilling lives. Without adequate rest and sleep, we cannot be healthy.

“Sleep, and enough of it, is the prime necessity. Enough exercise, and good food are other necessities. But sleep—good sleep, and enough of it—this is a necessity without which you cannot have the exercise of use, nor the food.” ~Edward Everett Hale, “How to Get the Best of It,” c.1892

Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. Ever wonder why you get sick after not sleeping well for a few nights? How about why you’re drinking bottomless cups of coffee throughout the day and reaching for sweet and savory snacks in the afternoon? Or perhaps you’ve questioned why you’re not able to fully recover from workouts?

Life is rhythmic; everything we do follows cycles of activity and rest, of which sleep is the most critical part. When we chronically short-change ourselves of sleep, it shows up in our health in many ways. Studies show that the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night, teens need nine hours and adolescents need ten hours. Consider, how much sleep are you getting? Is inconsistent and inadequate sleep hindering the quality of your life and exercise results?

Well Rested
– Improves memory, creativity and focus
– Curbs inflammation
– Maintains healthy immune system
– Healthy blood sugar regulation and weight control
– Improves recovery and performance
– Increases energy and overall mood
– Reduces stress
– Clearer, healthier skin

Sleep Deprived
– Cognitive decline, memory loss, inability to make decisions
– Systemic inflammation (the root of all modern disease)
– Weakens immune system
– Increases hunger and cravings, weight gain
– Decreases physical performance
– Negatively affects mood and mental health (including depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder)
– Inability to manage stress, impulsivity
– Acne, breakouts

I invite you to join me in bravely facing our struggle to gain thorough rest. Stay tuned for next steps that you can take along with me as we take back our health and raise our quality of life. After all, no vitamins or quick-fix can replace good sleep. No sleep is no joke!

Look for Part II coming soon…

Resources & reading recommendations:
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival – T.S. Wiley
The Power of Rest-Matthew Edlund
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time- Arianna Huffington