Sleep is one of those things some of us wish we didn’t have to partake in while others are complete addicts. Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on, there are seven universal truths you need to know about this nightly ritual.
1. You are in debt
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of 7 hours for adults under 65, but most of us only get 5-6 hours. Probably because we can’t stop looking at our phones, binging on Netflix, and mindlessly eating before bedtime… Or is that just us?
2. You are smarter than you think you are
Sleeping has a profound effect on the prefrontal lobe. We’ll save you twenty-five seconds of searching Google—it’s the cool part of your brain that deals with judgment, risk-taking, and decision-making. In fact being sleep deprived by just one day has the same effect on you as going to work with a glass of wine in hand. So if you want to up your A game, go to bed.
3. Sleep can help heal depression and anxiety
If you happen to suffer from two of the most common mental health issues in the United States, you can go to war for yourself every night simply by sleeping. The New England Journal of Medicine released an article in 2015 about the profound effect sleep has on the body. Each night, your brain is taking out the “trash”—working on problems you couldn’t solve while you were awake wondering what was for lunch. It’s working hard throwing away things that would otherwise build up and cause, well, a headache later on. And, of course, sleep sends your entire body into deep relaxation state by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
4. You are fasting
This may seem obvious, but when you sleep you’re not eating—even if you’re dreaming about a giant bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. And when you’re not eating your body produces growth hormones and a plethora of other sciencey-sounding things that deal with mental health, allocation of nutrients, and metabolism. During this time without food, you are giving your body a chance to dip into your love handles and whatever else may jiggle to nourish itself for a leaner and healthier you. Now that’s an “exercise” routine that we can really get behind!
5. Sex can be sexier
Chronic sleep loss or deprivation will lead to erectile dysfunction in men while women with similar amounts of sleep deprivation experience a dryness during sex. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2015 found that people who get sufficient regular sleep are 14% more likely to engage sexually with their partner, and a stunning 96% of those people reported having a better, more satisfying experience. Can you say #napgoals?
6. Embrace your dark side
Who knew there was an actual reason as to why we close our eyes when we sleep? We close our peepers because light is the enemy of restful sleep. That means, night lights, light pollution, the Alaskan summer, and your smartphone are all actively working against you to make sleep more difficult. So embrace the power of the dark side and strike down some restful hours of shuteye tonight.
7. You will live longer
A study of nearly 16,000 adults ages 65 and up found that those who routinely experienced a good night’s sleep were also those who reaped the benefits of better health and longevity. All this to say that sleep is a big part of your life, and how you treat it today will greatly impact your tomorrow.