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The Importance of Getting a Good Night’s Sleep for Recovery

Whoever stated that “Sleep is for the week” may want to rethink sacrificing a vital body function. For students, there may not be enough time in a day to study for tests, write papers, and pursue extracurricular activities. For adults with jobs and a family, proper time management becomes more of a challenge where making time for self and sleep becomes stretched thin. While claiming to have 4-5 hours of sleep a night and being able to accomplish more in a day is worthy of bragging rights, making this a long-term habit may carry consequences.

Consider how sleep is critical to your recovery from the daily stressors of life. A 2017 neuroscience article sums up the function of sleep well by providing an overview of its essential role in mental performance, immunity, and inflammatory response [1]. First, most would agree that waking up from an 8-hour rest is better than rising before dawn at 4 am. The sensation of grogginess is bound to happen for the super early riser. Because the process of sleep occurs in stages, waking up very early in the morning is similar to stopping in the middle and missing out on more benefits to come.

The “third stage” of sleep is known for the growth and recovery of skeletal muscles and the immune system and also has a role in mental performance [2]. That is why we hear about professional athletes getting in their 8 to even 10 hours of sleep. It’s also commonly accepted for students to have adequate rest before taking a big test. Cramming the night before an exam hardly works.

Setting up a sleep schedule and a habit will take commitment. Because sleep occurs in stages and cycles, it’s best to have a regular sleep pattern. It starts with sleep hygiene, which refers to your daily habit and sleep environment that may affect the quality of your night’s rest. You would want good sleep hygiene for better quality. The following is a list of recommendations to promote sleep hygiene according to the Sleep Medicine Reviews journal [3]:

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages a few hours before sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine
  • Exercise (may get you tired and more likely to sleep better at night)
  • Avoid napping during day time
  • Control stress
  • Go to bed in a quiet and dark environment

Additionally, log your sleep hours daily so you can track how well you’re sleeping over time and make adjustments in habits and sleep environment accordingly. In this age of digital devices and the smartphone, wean off Internet use as you approach bedtime. If you follow these recommendations consistently, you will likely benefit the most from good sleep through better cognitive and physical performance to conquer the day.

References

[1] Zielinski, M. R., McKenna, J. T., & McCarley, R. W. (2016). Functions and Mechanisms of Sleep. AIMS Neuroscience3(1), 67–104. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390528/

[2] Patel AK, Reddy V, Araujo JF. Physiology, Sleep Stages. [Updated 2020 Apr 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526132/

[3] Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep medicine reviews22, 23–36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400203/

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