Why do we spend almost a third of our life sleeping? Why is sleep so important?
At a minimum, the brain controls the most basic functions – from our beating heart to our body temperature. It moves us through the world and processes how we experience it. It allows us to think, create, learn, solve, react, explain, and remember. Every day the brain runs a biological marathon.
The brain is a three-pound (1.5 kg) bundle of 100 billion cells, all working as fast as possible to get you through each day. At the end of the day, the overworked legion brain cells need to relax, shower, and prepare for tomorrow – they need a good night’s sleep.
During sleep, your body washes the brain, removing rubbish built up over the day. Cleansing the brain improves our focus, our memory, and our mood. A good night’s sleep leaves you feeling alert, focused, and happy. Sleep is essential for mental health.
Sleep also helps keep the body healthy. During sleep, your heart slows, and your breathing deepens. As your muscles and mind slow, stress melts away. The organs responsible for digestion, reproduction, and disease prevention reset themselves. In this way, sleep improves both the mind and body to help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
Individuals who go long periods without quality sleep are more prone to obesity and disease. Men experience a reduction in sex drive. Both men and women are more likely to develop mental health problems.
To improve your sleep, try to reduce exposure to light and screens after sunset. Try not to consume caffeinated drinks late in the day. To clear your mind of the day’s anxiety and purposefully slow your breathing, meditation may be helpful.
Although alcohol and medication may help with getting to sleep, chronic use can block the body’s ability to achieve restful, dream-filled sleep. Whenever possible, try not to rely on powerful medication for the best night’s rest.
Ask your physician for other tips on how to improve your sleep.