When life gets busy, sleep is often the first activity that we sacrifice. Considered a luxury by many busy people, sleep is actually as vital to sustaining a balanced life as are breathing, eating, and drinking. Getting sufficient sleep can be a potent energizer, just as not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling drained and sluggish. While eight hours is the average amount of sleep most adults should generally aim for, the right amount of sleep varies for each person. Some people may thrive on just four hours, while others don’t feel well rested unless they’ve slept for ten hours. How much we sleep also varies, depending upon where we are in life. Young people often need more sleep, while older people may need less. The benefits of sleep always stay the same. Regular and consistent periods of wakefulness and sleep are key ingredients to fostering a healthy body and a clear mind. It is during sleep that your body renews itself.
The ability to forgo sleep is considered by some to be an asset. But while it may seem that the nighttime hours can be better used for more productive activities, sleep in itself is extremely productive. During sleep, your body and psyche are both regaining their strength for the coming day. You may even have the unique opportunity to explore the hidden recesses of your personality while you dream. Meanwhile, your long-term memories are reinforced.
Many cultures engage in an afternoon siesta. Taking a nap is refreshing and can increase both productivity and creativity. Author Lewis Carroll is said to have conceived his idea for Alice in Wonderland while dreaming. A good night’s sleep also has been known to bring with it the gifts of clarity, wisdom, and a fresh perspective. Even the ancient Greeks thought of sleep as a gift from the gods. Give yourself the gift of peaceful slumber and you will likely find yourself feeling alert, refreshed, and ready for life’s challenges. You may also find yourself feeling more centered, thoughtful, and aware throughout the day so you can live your full potential.
Madisyn Taylor and Scott Blum are co-founders of DailyOM and is responsible for all the content on its Website.