The Link Between Sleep and Your Life
What Does It Mean to Have “A Good Night’s Sleep”?
If you wake up on most mornings feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, then you have had a good night’s rest. Nothing is better than feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. The National Sleep Foundation has given other indicators of good sleeping patterns written below:
- You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
- You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.
- While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
- You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
- You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
- Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring , pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.
If you are experiencing many if not most of these indicators, then congratulations, you are having a good night’s sleep!
What Is Stress?
You have been waking up every day for the past few weeks with a headache. It has also been difficult to eat. Anytime you try to take a bite of food, even your favorite meals, you feel nauseous. Whether at school or at work, you’ve lost the motivation to focus or complete any required tasks. Time seems to stop. If you are experiencing a situation like this or symptoms similar to it, you are most likely experiencing a form of stress. The American Institute of Stress defines stress in this way:
“The term ‘stress’, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as ‘the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change’.”
Simply put, if you have lost motivation to do the basic, demanding tasks of the every day, you are experiencing stress.
Sleep and Stress
Whether it’s the worry of something you said in a text to your boyfriend, or an assignment that you haven’t started due the next day, these stressors can lead to sleep deprivation. This increased amount of stress and lack of sleep can lead to more stress. This pattern continues until it becomes a real problem. Sleep is important. Stress also has a part to play in our lives. However, when there is an imbalance of both in various extremes, big problems can arise.
Taking a good night's rest is necessary to reboot your body and prepare it for the next day. This can easily be compared to charging your phone, or putting a full tank of gas in your car. Starting your day with your phone charged to 29% or a car with a quarter tank full of gas won’t get you through your day. According to The American Psychological Association, the average adult should at least be getting eight to nine hours of sleep per night. Stress symptoms have been proven to occur when adults are getting fewer than eight hours of sleep.
It is crucial when analyzing the relationship between sleep and stress, to remember that the causes and effects can be interchanged. For example, while stress can lead to less hours of sleep, less hours of sleep can also lead to stress.
Sleep and Academic Performance
After understanding the relationship between sleep and stress, one can begin to uncover a domino effect within other factors in an individual’s daily life. Let’s say, for example, you have procrastinated studying all semester for your final exam. The two nights before the test, you stay up all night studying. Due to the four hours of sleep you get per night, you do poorly on your other exams. Your lack of sleep and poor scores on your exams re-enforces the stress you are already having.
Do you see this domino effect within the relationships between sleep, stress, and your academic performance? They all work together.
Dr. Lawrence Espstein, former president of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine spoke on this relationship illustrating, “Recent studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health and working at peak performance. After two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours.”
In conclusion, getting a good night’s sleep is critical to academic performance. Missing Zs is just the beginning of an ugly effect to your performance in the many areas of your life.
Sleep and Overall Health
Your health habits are just as crucial to a good night’s sleep as a good night’s sleep is to your good health. When your body is rebooting at night, it needs the proper nutrients to do so. A Samsung charger can’t charge an iPhone the way an Apple charger can. Always make sure you are incorporating the proper nutrients into your life, so your body can not only get quantity, but quality of sleep.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America provide some helpful tips to improve health and sleep, some of which include: avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine consumption, removing electronics near your bed before sleeping, exercising on a daily basis, and avoiding foods with fatty and fried food before bed.
There is a time and place for everything, and that includes sleep. Work your body throughout the day and finish what you need to finish, but once it is bedtime, take the time to relax and remove any distractions inhibiting you from a good night’s rest.
- Brandon Doyle