Sleep and Success: Why a Better Night’s Sleep Means a Better You
If you are a high flyer by nature, getting enough sleep may seem like the least of your worries. With so many things to achieve, your to-do list is no doubt full to the brim – and constantly growing. When our schedules get busy and we need to find more hours in the day, sleep is often one of the first things to go. However, cutting back on sleep is one of the worst habits to get into, and will ultimately slow you down and even obstruct your path to success. Reaching peak performance requires you to be in peak shape, and this is only possible if you acknowledge and embrace the importance of sleep. Let’s explore why and how sleep is a defining factor in your success story.
Sleep Science: The Link Between Rest and Performance
In a world where we are constantly switched on, sleep has come to be seen as a luxury when it is, in fact, a necessity. It may be hard to believe that something as simple as laying down and going to sleep at night could be essential for human survival – but that is exactly what it is. It affects your entire body and therefore has a direct impact on almost every aspect of your being. Foregoing sleep on a regular basis will not merely leave you feeling a little groggy; it will eventually take its toll on your physical and mental health, as well as your cognitive abilities.
If you are set on success, you know you need to be on top form – and this means getting enough quality sleep to recharge your batteries each night. Here are just some of the things that make sleep an incredibly powerful performance enhancer:
- A sharper mind: According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep is essential for forming and maintaining the pathways in your brain that enable you to learn and create new memories. A good night’s sleep will help you to concentrate, respond quickly and focus your attention on the task at hand.
- A stronger immune system: Sleep is also crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. A lack of sleep hampers your ability to fend off infection and illness, leaving you more susceptible to sick days. You cannot give your best if you are run down, so sleep needs to be part of your long-term plan for staying healthy.
- Mental wellbeing: How much sleep you get can even affect your state of mind. Most of us have experienced firsthand how a lack of sleep can leave you feeling irritable the next day, but chronic sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of developing anxiety or depression. Sufficient sleep is crucial to maintaining your mental wellbeing – which will help you to stay motivated and driven to achieve your goals.
Making Sleep a Priority
Even armed with all the facts, it can still be extremely difficult to make sleep a priority within your demanding schedule. First and foremost, you need to readjust the way you view sleep: it is not a luxury that you grab when you can, but an essential part of survival – just like food and water. Most adults need between six and eight hours of sleep each night, but everyone is different; you know when you are at your best, so find your magic number and adjust your schedule accordingly. If sleep doesn’t come easy, certain habits and lifestyle changes may help.
Prepare Your Environment
Environmental factors play an important part in sleep quality, and a few changes to your bedroom could make all the difference. First and foremost, you need to be physically comfortable, so make sure your mattress is up to par. If lumps and bumps are keeping you up, or you wake up each morning with back ache, it might be worth considering switching to a memory foam mattress. At the same time, make sure your bedroom is cool and dark enough to welcome uninterrupted sleep.
Prepare Your Body
Your behavior throughout the day can affect how you sleep, so make sure your routine isn’t conducive to insomnia. You can prepare your body for a restful slumber by reducing your caffeine intake – especially after lunch – and opting for an earlier dinner. Exercising at the right time of day can also play a part. Whilst vigorous exercise too close to bedtime may give you an untimely energy boost, exercising during the day will help you to sleep more restfully at night.
Prepare Your Mind
Many sleep disorders are related to matters of the mind, so mental preparation may be the key. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and TVs all provide too much mental stimulation, so get into the habit of totally switching off in the run up to bedtime. If you lay down at night to find that your head is spinning, try keeping a notepad and pen next to your bed. Before you go to sleep, write down all your thoughts, worries and to-dos; this can help to clear your mind so that you are free to sleep in peace.
In order to be at your best both mentally and physically, establishing a healthy relationship with sleep is absolutely crucial. By keeping your mind and body sharp, you can take on whatever challenges life throws at you and be your best self at all times.