How can sleep enhance your performance?

Updated: May 31, 2019

Whether you look to accomplish marvelous things carrier-wise, or you wish to be more energetic and upbeat while performing your daily tasks or you dream of going beyond your current physical limits or improve your academic scores and overall health, the quality sleep is the catalyst for a change you need to make in order to be able to go to that next level.

There is a large body of research on the benefits of sleep to our performance.

This extensive list of studies leads to one conclusion: the quality of your sleep is vital to the quality of your life and how well you sleep will ultimately determine whether you survive or thrive in your life.

1. Sleep boosts your productivity = Work smarter, not harder!

Some of the greatest artists and inventors (such as Salvador Dali, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Nikola Tesla, among many others) credited their creativity to the lack of sleep. The science says otherwise though – while you might come up with innovative ways to solve the problems at first, long-term sleep deprivation can have a severe negative impact on your critical thinking and it can be detrimental to your physical health and mental agility.

One study looked at more than 4000 laborers in 4 American corporations and found the correlation between poor performances in the workplace and sleep deprivation.

It showed “significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes” in employees who slept less than recommended 8 hours. This costs the company around $1,970 per worker a year and amounts to a total of $63 billion annually in lost productivity. When it comes to attendance, sleep loss costs, the worker approximately 1.5 times more absences due to illness.

Regarding athletic performance, the quality and quantity of sleep affect reaction times, muscle recovery, injury risks, illness rates, and motivation. Sleep regenerates cells and renews tissues in the body. It straightens the immune system and affects well-being. Rest regulates the appetite, body temperature, and hormone levels in the body. All of these things determine how much energy we have and how well we will do when the game is on.

Whether you aspire to do better academically, maintain your competitive edge at work, or improve your physical performance, do not underestimate the value of sleep and the impact it has on all your endeavors.

2. Sleep enhances your memory = Keep your brain fit!

Sleep impacts our learning ability in 2 significant ways:

1. A person that lacks sleep cannot concentrate properly, and therefore has trouble memorizing quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

2. Sleep helps the brain consolidate the information, which is an inevitable stage of learning. This consolidation enables you to remember the information later on.

Doctors at Harvard Medical School sum up the learning process in three phases:

1. Acquisition (the process of gathering new information)

2. Consolidation (the process of building long-term memory)

3. Recall (the ability to access information that had been previously stored)

The acquisition and recall phases take place during wakefulness, but the research suggests that consolidation occurs when we are asleep.

Another study, carried out by German researchers, confirms that sleep after studying allows the brain to collect and sort out the information. Additional studies corroborated that even an hour-long nap can significantly benefit your ability to memorize new things and remember the stuff you previously learned.

After you get a good night’s sleep, consider these techniques to help you learn faster.

3. Sleep makes you healthier = Choose prevention instead of recovery!

A chronic lack of sleep is linked to type 2 diabetes. The main reason for this is the fact that when you try to cheat your body of sleep, your hormones get out of balance and less insulin is released in your body. Insulin is a hormone that plays numerous roles in the body’s metabolism and regulates the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

This imbalance in insulin means that the loss of sleep causes you to consume more calories, indulge in fast food, overeat, and gain weight.

A study of 24,000 Greek adults found that subjects who napped several times a week had a lower risk of dying from heart disease in comparison to those who didn’t take any naps. Rest reduces levels of stress hormones and restores both the body and the mind.

When your body is sleep-deprived, it gets into a state of stress: its functions are on high alert, raising your blood pressure and making it difficult for you to fall asleep. This leads to a vicious cycle of stress-induced insomnia and chronic fatigue.

If you are sleep-deficient, you are 5 times more likely to suffer from depression, and your chances of struggling with panic attacks and anxiety are 7 times higher.

If you wish to maintain excellent health and advance your career, you should be active, engaging, and most importantly, well-rested.

To be fully present in your experience, take part in the wonders around you and advantage of all the amazing things that surround you - sleep well, sleep enough, work hard, laugh a lot and you will get to live a long, joyous and prosperous life.

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