Sleeping is a complex process that involves a series of stages from light sleep (stages 1 and 2), to deep sleep (stage 3), and finally, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. A good night’s sleep means cycling through all these stages successfully every night for our body and mind to be restored fully.
The ingredients of healthy sleep
- Between 7 to 9 hours of sleep
- Relatively uninterrupted sleep
- A consistent sleep schedule matching your natural circadian rhythms (Circadian rhythm is the integration between your body’s internal clock and environmental cues)
A good night’s sleep is key to good physical, emotional, and mental health. Let’s take a closer look at some of its benefits:
Balances your emotional state
Sleep deprivation has been shown to significantly affect the amygdala, that little yet powerful part in the brain that plays an important part in emotional processing. Notice how you tend to be more irritable and panicky when you lack a good night’s sleep? That’s the heightened amygdala talking. Healthy sleep enables you to regulate your emotions better.
Helps promote creative ability
It’s not just that sudden burst of inspiration that comes from colourful dreams occurring in the REM stage. Sleep has been found to improve creative problem solving, idea formation, and increased insight into figuring out solutions.
Improves your focus
Researchers have found that lack of sleep hinders sustained attention. This is one of the reasons why you tend to feel foggy-brained when you’re sleep-deprived. Establishing healthy sleep patterns helps you pay attention to detail, enables your learning muscle, and enhances short-term brain function, which are all key ingredients to turning in quality work output.
Another major benefit of sleep is in the formation of long-term memory, making distant memories stronger and easier to recall. This could include anything from occasions to important skills you’ve picked up over the years. And because quality sleep is associated with the removal of ‘waste’ accumulated in the brain, it can also help prevent dementia in the long run.