We need to talk about sleep.
We all know that millennials are notorious for working overtime and wearing their exhaustion as a badge of honor to office, muttering the words “sleep is for pussies…” whenever someone tells them they look tired.
Sounds familiar? Because me too.
Thanks to constant access to a wide variety of stimulants ranging from Matcha tea to Cocaine, it’s far too easy to get into a habit of viewing sleep as a waste of time.
Obviously this is not the case, which is why it’s time to look at the benefits of proper sleep.
Please note that a lot of these points are things we already pay money to achieve, unaware that one hour of extra sleep will give it to you for free.
Let’s dive in.
It probably doesn’t come as a shock that sleep has a restorative effect on your body.
I mean, we’ve all experienced the natural glow our skin gets during holiday weekends with no alarms, versus how we look when crawling to the office on a Wednesday morning having partied until 3am the night before.
That’s you restored vs you not restored.
There’s a Doctor who once explained the whole detox situation in a great way, saying the brain functions similarly to like throwing a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time.
So when you’re awake, your brain will always focus on your survival, which means it will be producing cortisol, adrenalin and other stimulants, and focusing purely on getting you through the day.
It’s really only during sleep that your brain has the chance to clean up the mess we create during the day.
It’s shown that during sleep, your brain cells will shrink by 60%, which in turn creates enough space so that toxins get flushed out.
Now, a big effect of having a “detoxed brain”, is that it functions more efficiently when it comes to mood, motivation, judgement and perception.
But more than that, it has a huge impact on your ability to retain information and solidify memories.
Obviously this is crucial for anyone who is working their ass off learning something, whether it be exams, work, learning a language, or gathering receipts to take down James Charles.
The ability to retain this information is what makes our time well spent.
It’s shown that during sleep, the information and memories you gather during the day will shift over to a more permanent region of the brain, turning everything into long term memories.
This even goes as far as studies showing that taking a nap right after learning new information, makes a significant difference in the amount of information retained.
More than that, it’s also been proven that we can learn new information while sleeping, which is why you’ll find thousands of eight hour long language learning podcasts on YouTube that really just sound like some sleepy hypnosis shit.
It’s because your brain retains information, you’re just multitasking your way through the night. So no, sleep is not for pussies.
Increases Happiness (Like, A LOT)
This is probably the most important point of them all.
If we consider the main reason we’re not getting enough sleep, it usually has to do with working too much, needing that promotion, wanting to improve our our finances – basically thinking it will all pay off in the future and we’ll one day be happier.
Well, it seems cutting down on sleep to get more done is one of the most short sighted, self-destructive habits when it comes to wanting better results at work.
(Other than cocaine, of course.)
Ready to have your mind blown once again?
“One extra hour of sleep per night has more impact on your daily happiness than an extra $60,000 in annual income”
– Norbert Schwarz, Psychologist
Now, I’m sure you’re all imagining the relief you’d have if you earned $60,000 more per year, which is fair. But this could be a good time to ask yourselves – is putting in extra work, and sleeping just one more hour per night mutually exclusive?
Because for most of us, the answer is no. It’s all about prioritizing, and actually taking the time to put sleep above Netflix on the list.
Now, looking further into this point, studies have shown that a single night of sleep deprivation impairs activity in the brain’s frontal lobe.
This part of the brain is responsible for decision making, perspective, mood and maintaining healthy responses.
So basically, just one night of poor sleep can cause you to behave like an emotionally unstable, overly dramatic piece of you-know-what.
We’ve all been there.
For those who do anything that resembles physical activity, you’ve probably noticed how your performance decreases when you’re sleep deprived.
Studies have shown that those who get less than 8 hours of sleep, will have 1.7x higher risk of injury when being exercising. Not only does lack of sleep affect your energy levels and effort when it comes to physical activity, but it also heavily slows down your body’s recovery time.
This is an important point to make considering how a lot of people who want to get in shape will wake up earlier to fit in their gym sessions, often losing an hour or so of sleep.
So for anyone setting physical goals, sleep is crucial.
This last one is fairly simple, and I’m sure most of you have heard it countless times before.
It’s well known that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain.
Basically when you don’t get enough sleep, your body will crave energy, usually in the form of carbs and sugar. This leads to a significant increase in hunger, shitty choices in food, and less satisfaction after meals.
There’s a fun study on this that showed that people on a sleep-deprived diet had 55% less fat loss than those who got more than 7 hours per night.
More than that, it’s also known that Cortisol promotes fat storage, which is why people often blame stress for their weight gain. But it’s important to note that Cortisol also increases the breakdown of muscle and makes you want to eat more, as it’s a stress hormone that is preparing your body for a fight or flight situation.
There’s also a study were lack of sleep caused a 30% drop in insulin response, which leads to higher blood sugar, which further leads to even more insulin produced. Eventually, your body starts storing the fat because it just completely panics and can’t really allow the sugar to hang out in your bloodstream, and congrats, you’ve got more fat cells.
Hopefully this gives everyone enough reasons to take a step back once in a while and prioritize proper sleep, because that shit is important AF, and you shouldn’t need an excuse to take care of yourselves.