In many ways sleep is a mystery – what is it that drives us to lay down every night and recharge? What exactly is this process doing to affect our health, both physical and mental? It turns out that sleep is tied to our overall well-being in a variety of ways. Here are 5 important ways that sleep can dramatically impact your quality of life.
You make worse decisions when you don’t sleep
A study by Dr. Timothy Roehrs, the Director of research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, took a look at how fatigue affects decision making. His experiment put people in front of computers and had them make decisions regarding their work and money they could earn – and those that were tired statistically made worse decisions.
You are more likely to get in an accident and harm yourself or others
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 1 out of 6 (16.5%) of fatal car crashes are due to drowsy driving, not to mention a significant portion of non-fatal accidents. When you are driving, or performing some potentially dangerous activity, a lack of sleep will make it much more likely that you will act inadequately and cause yourself or others harm.
Your memory will be worse
When you sleep your mind is actually at work (in a different way), helping you store memories and making your mind sharper and more powerful. This process is called consolidation, and though not perfectly understood just yet, the evidence is very clear that the link between memory and sleep is very strong.
You won’t live as long
Some studies have shown that there exists a strong link between how much sleep you get each night and the length of your life. If you sleep less than 5 hours a night or more than 8 hours a night, the results of a 2010 study indicate that you will not live as long as if you find a happy medium.
You won’t be as creative
Multiple studies from Harvard and Boston College show that you need to take some sleep time to recharge if you want to be at your best when solving creative problems. Again we don’t understand the “why” behind the study perfectly, but the results are clear – you’re at your best creatively when you sleep the right amount.
If these tidbits startled you, but you don’t have time to add a few extra hours to your sleep schedule just yet – don’t worry. Resting the mind can be just as effective as sleep if doing meditation for even just a few minutes a day.
Sleep and rest are a powerful tools for humans to improve theirs lives, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Some effects you’ll notice immediately, and some effects will take years to really quick in. But know this – the evidence that sleep is important is not up for debate.