Is sleep really that important? We all know the answer is yes. Quality sleep is just as important to human survival as food and water. In the past, it was commonplace to brag about only getting a few hours of sleep each night. But that outlook has been changing. Business leaders, athletes, government officials, entrepreneurs, influencers and many more are lauding the benefits of a good night’s rest.
What Happens During a Night of Good Sleep?
A lot is going on in our body and mind when we get sufficient, good quality sleep:
- Body repair: During the day, our bodies undergo a lot of wear and tear. While we sleep, we go through a process of repair and rejuvenation. Our damaged cells are discarded and new healthy cells take their place. Our muscles and other tissues regenerate while we sleep.
- Detoxification: Our dead discarded cells pass into our bloodstream and are eventually cleared out of our systems through a process of detoxification.
- Hormone regulation: While we sleep, our brain regulates our growth and appetite hormones. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control our feelings of hunger and fullness, are regulated when we sleep. Lack of sleep affects the release of these hormones which can lead to to over-eating or lack of control.
- Immune system boost: During sleep, our bodies are synthesizing proteins which aid in the growth and repair of tissue. These proteins are also used to boost the immune system. This is the main reason why we are advised to rest when we don’t feel well so that our immune system can recuperate and operate at its best.
- Processing information and forming memories: During REM sleep, blood flow to the brain increases. At this stage, it is believed that we process the information we have collected throughout the day. We filter out the unimportant information and commit the important parts to long-term memory. New synaptic connections form in the brain when we make new memories. REM sleep is also the time when we process emotional experiences; we have a natural tendency to block out the unpleasant experiences and remember the pleasant ones. Another reason to get better sleep.
- Learning: Because we form new memories when we sleep, sleep is crucial for learning. All the information we have accumulated about a current area of study is processed and committed to memory when we sleep. If we do not sleep for long periods or get insufficient sleep, we tend to lose information that we have studied or can’t recall it quickly.
- Problem-solving skills: While we sleep, our brain is still working. With reduced sensory inputs from external sources, there are no distractions and it is easier to focus. We can also pull up previously learned information which is relevant to the problem and try and find solutions. This is why after a good night’s sleep we sometimes wake up with the answers that seemed elusive the night before.
What is Good Quality Sleep?
Good quality sleep is when we go through all the cycles of sleep without waking up in between or waking up just once. It is also important that we do this consistently every night. When we fall asleep easily and wake up without an alarm feeling refreshed, we know that we have had a good quality sleep.
Conversely, even after getting eight to nine hours of sleep, if we wake up feeling tired, we can assume that we did not have a good quality sleep. Bad sleep is characterized by low energy levels and daytime drowsiness despite having spent eight hours or more in bed. Nothing is more frustrating than laying down to sleep but not being able to fall asleep. There can be a number of factors on why this happens whether you had caffeine too late in the day, or you were on your cell phone right before you went to bed. But one reason that is not so obvious is the quality of your pillow. A good pillow is necessary for quality sleep and if you’ve had your same pillow for more than two years it’s probably a good time to replace it. We recommend a Luxe Pillow that can provide both support and structure. If you’ve slept on a well-made pillow at a hotel and you don’t have that same quality of sleep at home it’s time to upgrade to a Luxe Pillow.
It’s pretty obvious that good quality sleep is not just important, but essential, for our health and well-being. From higher energy-levels and physical improvement to better brain function and problem-solving skills, sleep should be a top priority.