If you’re not considering sleep-care as self-care, we need to talk! For starters, let’s look at the benefits of sleep: improved mood, energy, performance, recovery… the list goes on. The benefits are clear, yet, our society still deems sleep a luxury. In fact, some even boast about their lack of sleep. That’s right — we’re living in a culture where bragging about being overworked, busy, and even sleep-deprived is a thing (why!?). There’s a common belief that being tired + sleep-deprived + stressed = success. You’ve probably heard the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” but please hear us when we say busyness is not a metric of success. And lack of sleep is certainly nothing to brag about!
Yet, here we are. According to the CDC, more than one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep, not to mention the poor quality of sleep that 60% of Americans report.
As a society, we’re so quick to throw around the term “self-care”, but are we really listening to our own advice? When we think of self-care, images of facemasks and spa days often appear in our minds, but self-care is truly anything that benefits the mind and body. And, it starts with one thing: sleep.
So, are you ready to leave behind the sleep-deprivation culture and start prioritizing a slumbersome snooze? Let’s deem sleep-care as self-care and ditch our overly packed schedules and sleepless nights, shall we?
The Importance of Sleep
If you’ve noticed yourself nodding off throughout the day, more irritable than usual, or lacking in energy and motivation, you may be suffering from a lack of sleep. When it comes to health, sleep is the quintessential element. Sleep loss can contribute to everything from weight gain, to energy loss, to lack of productivity (more on this below). Sleep is a time to recharge, repair our bodies, restore our energy, and prepare for the day ahead. As you can see, prioritizing sleep-care as self-care is the foundation of health!
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
So, how much sleep do you need? According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of well-rested sleep per night — this means disturbance-free! Sleep disturbances can have a significant impact on our quantity and quality of sleep and negatively impact on our health.
If you need help achieving quality sleep, try these 20 life changing sleep hacks and get the deep sleep you deserve.
Developing A Healthy Sleep Routine
Speaking of disturbance-free sleep, developing a healthy sleep routine is one of the best ways to ensure a restful night’s snooze. Research suggests sleep irregularities are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety. But, by developing a consistent evening routine, we can positively impact both our health and quality of life — it all starts with sleep-care as self-care!
If you’re lacking a sleep routine, we’ve got the ultimate sleep guide to help you develop healthy habits. Try these tips to learn the do’s and don’ts when it comes to sleep hygiene!
So, now that you understand the importance of sleep, it’s time to say goodbye to your “busy is better” mindset and embrace a new mindset all about rest and recovery.
Read on to discover why you should prioritize sleep-care as self-care.
The Top Reasons Why Sleep-Care as Self-Care Is Key to Optimal Health
#1 Extra Zzz’s Boost Productivity
The irony of sleep deprivation is we’re usually wasting our precious hours of beauty rest trying to be productive (when we’re not binge-watching Netflix, that is). While we have good intentions, research suggests maximizing your sleep time is more beneficial for productivity. Maybe you’re skimping on sleep to study for an exam, respond to emails, or catch up on work — whatever the case, it can (and should) wait!
Studies confirm the benefits of sleep-care as self-care, indicating increased sleep boosts productivity by improving memory, attention, and performance, while decreased sleep is significantly tied to procrastination.
Try to shut down your electronics and limit screen time at least 1-2 hours before bed. Our devices expose us to blue light, and blue light at night is a sleepless night waiting to happen. Instead of working into the night, try getting a good night’s rest and waking up early instead!
#2 Increase Your Sleep, Increase Your Immunity
Boosting your immune system could be considered the ultimate act of self-care, as it promotes many healthy lifestyle habits: taking daily vitamins, prioritizing immune-boosting foods, and limiting stress, to name a few. But, while you’re prioritizing these areas, don’t forget to pay extra attention to healthy sleep habits.
Recent research suggests sleep and immunity are directly related, which is why sleep-care as self-care is vital. Studies show sleep-deprived people are more likely to catch a cold or flu, whereas improved sleep has been shown to reduce the risk of infections as well as improve symptoms once infected.
RELATED: 6 Immune-Supporting Eating Habits
#3 Snooze Your Way To Less Stress
Stress reduction is the ultimate goal of most self-care practices, which is just another reason to support sleep-care as self-care.
Research suggests even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on stress and mood. Lack of sleep is associated with increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and overall mental exhaustion, and could even increase emotional stress by up to 30%. The solution? Catch some Z’s!
Deep sleep has been shown to calm and reset an anxious brain. Developing a regular sleep routine can reduce overall stress by resetting the body’s circadian rhythm, supporting a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Speaking of a sleep routine, if you want to deepen your inner zen, meditation before bed may further reduce cortisol levels and promote a restful night’s sleep.
Try a Fit On Meditation with DeAndre Sinette for The Deepest Sleep Ever!
#4 Improve Exercise Performance
If you’re crushing it in your workouts, you want to reap all the benefits from your hard work, don’t you? Well, your body needs adequate time to recover and repair, and sleep is a huge factor in this. According to research, athletes who slept less than 8 hours per night were almost twice as likely to sustain an injury compared to those who slept 8 hours or more. And, not only will you reduce your risk of injury, but boosting sleep can speed recovery too! Studies show a direct benefit of increased sleep on recovery as seen by increased protein synthesis, faster recovery time, and improved exercise-induced muscle damage.
Plus, if you’re exhausted and lacking energy, you’re more likely to skip out on your workout in the first place! So, think of sleep as a part of your fitness routine and get snoozing.
#5 Wake Up With Healthier Thoughts
Self-care goes beyond physical health. It’s the act of investing in yourself — mind, body, and soul. This means equal emphasis on mental and emotional health, too. Ever notice how self-awareness practices such as meditation, journaling, and gratitude are always trending as self-care methods? Well, it’s because they work!
The mind and body are intimately connected, which is why sleep-care as self-care may be more powerful than you think. A recent study suggests a healthy sleep cycle can repair functional brain activity and improve the regulation of emotions. When we neglect healthy sleep habits, research suggests we’re more likely to have negative thoughts. As you can see, those extra hours of sleep are crucial for both your mind and body.
Make Your Bedroom Your Sleep Sanctuary
Embracing a fast-paced life of constant stimulation, excessive work, and lack of sleep is a recipe for burnout. Sleep should be considered the pillar of health, which is why it’s time to give sleep the attention it deserves. You’d be amazed how slowing down and nourishing your mind and body can improve your health. So when you’re feeling tempted to work through the night or jam one more thing into the end of your day, remember this. A healthier, happier you starts with sleep-care as self-care!