In recent years, the topic of sleep has come to the forefront. This begs the question, why do we even sleep at all? According to Arianna Huffington’s latest book, The Sleep Revolution, there are actually four theories. First, sleep, as it relates to natural selection, aids in helping us hide from predators quietly. Second, we sleep to conserve energy, which requires less calories to survive. Third, sleep is a way of restoring the resources we use during the day. And lastly, sleep is the function of ongoing development and maintenance of the brain itself. According to more recent studies, sleep is a comprehensive tool in our biological tool box that helps us with our memory, ability to learn, brain development, appetite, immune function, and even aging. If that isn’t enough to convince you to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, we’ve put together four more pieces of wisdom to persuade you.
Because technology is great… to an extent. Technology is all around us; literally! With the boom of wearables originally developed to monitor fitness, the ubiquity of innovative tech has been our friend and foe over the years. While falling asleep with the TV on, or with your phone in your hand is tempting, blue light, which affects levels of sleep-inducing melatonin, streams out making your rest a little less restful. However, some wearables are adding sleep tracking as a part of their product lines. If you’re looking for the Rolls Royce of sleep technology, consider the Aura system. Working on more of a Vespa budget? A fitbit will also track your sleep.
Because science says so. While there is no cure for the common cold, lack of sleep increases your risk of getting it. This is just one of hundreds of facts from recent studies that should compel you to get some shut eye. Oftentimes, sleepiness is actually listed as a symptom for common and not-so-common ailments, which is further proof that our body uses sleep as a tool to protect itself and make itself better.
Because dreams can change your life. Dreams aren’t just entertainment for our “down time.” According to a study conducted by Matthew Walker at the University of California, Berkeley, they can also provide “a virtual reality model of the world that is of functional use to the development and maintenance of waking consciousness.” Recurring dreams have been noted to have their benefits as well. A study evaluating medical students’ performance on an important exam noted that students who reported dreaming about the exam beforehand scored higher than their non-dreaming counterparts.
Because you can make time for a nap. Didn’t get your full eight hours in last night? There is hope for you yet! Experts say the best time for a nap is early afternoon, so pack a pillow in your suitcase and get ready to enjoy all the benefits of a mid-afternoon snooze. Napping has been known to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, enhance performance, and even increase your learning power. Whether you’re dealing with jet lag, crying babies, or a snoring partner, a nap is the next best thing to jump start your circadian rhythm.