We are constantly being told that we must get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to perform at our best. But what does that actually mean and how can sleep make that much of a difference? 

Now with laptops, phones and tablets getting to sleep has never been more difficult. We have so many distractions in our bedrooms that it is a wonder we get any sleep. To add to this living in a ‘burn-out’ culture doesn’t help us, with looming deadlines and the constant guilt that you need to be working, young people are getting less and less sleep than ever before. 

So what is the actual amount of sleep you should get getting? Well, the experts are right, you should aim between 7-9 hours a night. When you sleep your body is essentially healing itself and creating memories so if you start to mess with this schedule your whole body clock can become out of sync. 

So, how can getting enough sleep be beneficial for our body and our work performance:

1. Your body clock is in a healthy cycle 

This diagram shows what happens to your body during the day and while you sleep: 

If you end up not getting enough sleep or even over-sleeping it can throw your body clock out of sync and you may be missing your ‘high alertness stage’ or affecting the way your body heals itself. 

2. Sleep improves your learning abilities 

Studies have shown that by getting the right amount of sleep you can help improve your learning abilities. 

So if you are learning a new skill, make sure you get the right amount of sleep since this will enhance your learning and problem-solving skills while also making you more alert and focused meaning you’ll be more decisive and creative. Sleeping helps your brain to encode the skills and thought processes you have throughout the day so if you don’t get enough sleep your brain will struggle to encode this information. 

3. You’ll be happier and have more energy to do the things you love 

Getting enough sleep means you’ll have more energy and generally feel happier. Sleep helps you to rest and heal for the next day. Meaning that throughout the day and won’t feel that tired slump in the afternoon and you’ll be in a good mood. 

The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study which found that subjects who were limited to 4.5 hours of sleep a night were reported to be more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. However, when the subjects resumed to their normal sleeping patterns they had a dramatic improvement in their mood. So this shows us that sleep can have an effect on our personalities and can help us to feel happier if we get the right amount of hours. 

4. You’ll become healthier 

It is common knowledge that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. This is because not getting enough sleep can lead to a slower metabolism. Sleep deprivation can also cause a greater risk of heart disease, strokes and can affect your immune system. This highlights the importance of sleep and why you should aim to get between 7-9 hours a night. Sleep deprivation is also closely linked with depression. A study has shown that  90% of people with depression complain about their sleep quality. 

These 4 reasons should be enough to convince you to get the recommended amount of sleep but if they haven’t convinced you why not use an app to track your sleep and notice on the days where you do get between 7-9 hours of sleep how much healthier and happier you feel.