One of the questions I ask my clients all the time is, are you getting enough quality sleep, and if not then why? I know how important sleep is to our longterm health, but I wanted to unpack this and delve further into understanding the importance of sleep, so who better to ask than Dr. Kristen Casey, clinical psychologist, and insomnia expert! Here is what she had to say about the importance of good sleep and the role it plays in our health.
So how does sleep contribute to our health?
Restful sleep is important for our physical and mental health. There are many biological processes that occur in our bodies while we sleep. When we don’t sleep, these processes are inhibited. For example, a few reasons why we sleep:
- muscle , tissue, and cell repair
- Maintaining body temperature
- Maintaining metabolism
- Storing new information
- Mental reorganization
- Energy restoration
- Memory consolidation
- Helps mood
- Hormone release
- Assists with attention and concentration
When we sleep more efficiently, people report increased life satisfaction, academic performance, and less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, or confusion. We know that sleep deprivation may be associated with obesity, heart problems, insulin issues, immune system difficulties, declined cognitive performance, impaired memory consolidation, mood disruption, and negative impacts on growth and development for children and adolescents. In addition, lack of sleep may slow down reaction time, which is similar to what people experience when they’re drunk.
When we wake up feeling rested from obtaining quality sleep, our body operates more efficiently. We’re less irritable and more energetic. We may not compensate with excess caffeine, sugar, or naps, which may negatively affect our sleep for the next night.
How do we heal when we sleep?
Our body heals itself mentally and physically while we sleep. The brain picks up on areas of the body that need healing, which triggers the release of hormones to assist with tissue growth. This helps wounds heal and restores tissue and muscles.
If we hit the gym, we need to rest in order for our muscles to grow and heal. This happens overnight while we sleep. We also need to mentally heal from our day. When we have a stressful day, our brain tries to reorganize and store information while we sleep, in ways to help us maintain our emotional health.
7 tips on how to practice good sleep hygiene…
- Consistent wake time
- Keeping the bedroom dark, cool, and relaxing (thermostat between 60 -67 degrees fahrenheit)
- Only using the bed for sleep and intimacy
- Avoiding screen time close to our bedtime
- 1 hour buffer time before bed (aka not doing anything stressful in the bedroom or close to bedtime, like having heated discussions with our partner or worrying about finances)
- Avoiding late night meals
- Being curious about alcohol or substance use before bed (generally we like to avoid these)