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The Importance of Sleep and Why Does It Matter

Imagine you eliminate sleep, exercise, and food for 24 hours. What do you think will make the biggest impact on your energy levels? The answer: Sleep. Not getting enough sleep plays the largest role in impacting your mood, energy, and productivity. Interestingly, there is much more talk about nutrition and activity. Getting sleep often remains in the background, although its impact on health is very important.

This article is part one in a series that will discuss the importance of sleep, how it impacts recovery, and the best tips for improving your slumber. In short, the importance of sleep impacts everyone, including those who:

  • Work a night shift
  • Exercise and eat healthily, with a desire to continue progressing
  • Take vitamin D
  • Have lots of STTs: stress, tempo, and technology
  • Experience insomnia and are considering taking sleeping pills

Why does sleep matter?

An adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you sleep 6 hours or less, you are already harming yourself. People who sleep 5 hours or less live ten years less. If you are a professional athlete, add an extra hour to your sleeping routine.

Positive effects of sleep include:

  • Hormone production, such as growth, hunger, and satiety hormones
  • Glucose regulation Memory and learning, like transitioning from short-term to long-term memory
  • Energy replenishment, including toxin removal, tissue recovery, and productivity
  • Mental health, such as an improved mood, emotional stability, and promotion of creativity

Scientists are increasingly discussing the sleep shortage pandemic. Society isn't getting enough sleep due to stress, the fast pace of life, and technology.

That's why:

  1. During the last 50 years, the average sleep duration decreased by 1 hour and 10 minutes, leaving an average sleep time of 6 hours and 50 minutes.
  2. People tend to stay up longer, going to sleep around midnight. Going to bed this late causes the body to miss out on critical processes.
  3. These factors change sleep patterns. As a result, we spend less time in the REM stage, which is vital to our creativity and emotional health.
  4. Sleeping pills are booming. In the US, 10 million people take sleeping pills every day.
  5. Night shift jobs take up 20-30% of the labor market. People working night shifts are in the risk group because of sleep deprivation.
  6. Sleepy drivers are responsible for more traffic accidents than drunk drivers or drivers on drugs combined.

Sleep is fundamental for physical activity and diet. And if you're looking for a great way to improve your health, start with getting your sleep habits right. Moreover, if you lack sleep or are a terrible sleeper from 12 to 3 a.m., you might experience a shortage of leptin hormone. Sleep shortage leads to an urge to eat, and because of a hunger hormone called ghrelin, you end up eating 300-400 more that day.

Sleep and mental health

Mental fitness is a growing movement that emphasizes keeping one's brain and emotional well-being in good shape. With that push comes a new generation of CEOs. Not too long ago, old school, hard-working leaders who didn't get enough sleep and had no personal life dominated the industry. Things have changed, and now we have marathon runners, yogis, and healthy diet enthusiasts running ventures. They all know the secret to success: You have to work on the brain as much as you work on the body. Taking care of yourself impacts everyday life, including increased productivity, energy, and sharpness.

If you are a leader, you must also lead yourself to better sleep patterns, because a good leader is like an athlete. Athletes are working on physical recovery by using cold therapy, foam rolling, and stretching. Business leaders who get a lot of mental pressure during the workday also need recovery: mental recovery.

Sleep is one of the best mental recovery tools.

Why is sleep important to leaders?

A sleep shortage, which is less than 7 hours, or poor sleep quality, often in the form of frequently waking up or snoring, dramatically impacts health and productivity. And unfortunately, sleep deprivation leads to long- and short-term consequences, such as glucose spikes, a weak immune system, and a slower metabolism. In some way, good sleep is your brain detox.

Also, sleep is crucial to your performance. Sleep deprivation impacts your concentration, attention span, and energy levels. Moreover, it also plays a big part in creativity and problem-solving skills crucial for risk management. Interestingly, not getting enough sleep can impact your management skills. Research finds that leaders who sleep less are more likely to be irritable and have less patience and emotional stability.

Two critical elements for better sleep

Sleeping better isn't hard. There are two easy things you can reduce immediately: alcohol and caffeine. Those are two critical elements impacting your sleep quality.

With alcohol, you can reach deep sleep, but it can cause you to miss out on the REM stage as it increases your heartbeat and temperature. This leads to waking up more frequently, even if you don't notice it. Alcohol has the same algorithm as Valium or Xanax, which activates GABA, the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. Its principal role is reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. You can activate this neurotransmitter with less harmful methods, such as amino acid Taurine or lime-blossom tea.

Caffeine is a great stimulant to use in the first part of your day because it lasts up to 12 hours in your body. But consuming it later in the day causes it to block adenosine, an important sleep chemical. Replace coffee with green tea, which consists of l-theanine, a great relaxant. Or, sip something more suitable for a night like cacao or coconut milk.

In the next article in this series, we will discuss how to set up your bedroom for sleep success, as well as the best sleep routine examples to use daily.


Harvard Business Review. Sleep well, lead better.

PennState Health. Sleeping less than six hours and heart disease, stroke: A deadly combo

Youngstedt, S. D., Goff, E. E., Reynolds, A. M., Kripke, D. F., Irwin, M. R., Bootzin, R. R., Khan, N., & Jean-Louis, G. (2016). Has adult sleep duration declined over the last 50+ years? Sleep medicine reviews.

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