How Getting More Sleep Changed My Life

Believe it or not, we were not created to go non-stop.

We are taught by society that in order to succeed in life, we need to do everything and anything it takes. The wide availability of caffeine and energy drinks gives us the false sense of security that even if we don’t get enough sleep tonight, we can just grab a grande latte in the morning.

I personally went through a period of time where I worked multiple jobs, went to school, and tried to have a personal life on top of it all.

I would stay up late at night studying or working my second job and rise early in the morning to get to my day job.

I always brought three or four energy drinks with me to stay awake at my desk. Even with the energy drinks and frequent snacks (often sugary) to keep me awake, I felt fuzzy and not “all there” during the day. I definitely wasn’t performing at my full ability.

I made many excuses to myself.

“No one gets eight hours of sleep these days.”

“All college students go through this.”

“I’m just doing what I gotta do to succeed!”

Unfortunately, after awhile, I found both my physical and mental health deteriorating. I was gaining weight, feeling sluggish and my emotions were all over the place. I eventually became so depressed that I had to seek help from a professional.

Through journaling, I discovered what I already knew deep down… I needed more rest. My worst emotional days were those with the least amount of sleep. My overall health had taken a back seat to money and a promised career at the end of my schooling.

The thing is, God commands us to take time to rest.

The importance of rest is demonstrated by Him taking one full day off after He created the earth. If God needs rest, don’t you think us humans need it as well?

Our brains need time to recharge in order to make necessary nerve connections and enforce things we’ve learned or need to remember each day. Over time lack of sleep can cut down on our ability to retrieve these memories. This doesn’t just affect students studying for a test, but might cause you to forget an important date or fact about a co-worker.

Sleep and depression are so closely connected, scientists often have a hard time figuring out which came first. It is certain, however, that lack of time in bed causes irritability, anger and may even lower one’s ability to cope with stress.

In addition to mental and emotional processes, sleep is also correlated with metabolism related hormones, such as ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the hormone that tells our body we are “full”).  Imagine how our eating habits can change if this regulation system is out of whack.

Even scarier, sleep deprivation puts us at risk behind the wheel. Our reaction times are cut down so much that sleepy driving is comparable to drunk driving. I can recall more than one time where I had to pull over to shut my eyes while driving at night. Not safe.

effects-of-sleep-deprevations

I knew that I needed to reevaluate my priorities if I wanted to heal my body, mind and emotions. Money is great, but this endless cycle was detrimental to my well-being.

Once I quit my full-time job to focus on school and to get more rest, I was able to make other life improvements, too.

I learned how to budget. I got better grades. My relationships also improved since I wasn’t in such a foul mood all the time. I began to feel happy and like myself again.

I even had time to go to the gym on a regular basis and my sweet tooth was no longer out of control. From all of this I developed a passion for fitness and health that I’m turning into a career.

All from getting more sleep at night.

I won’t lie, I’m not perfect. I don’t get a full eight hours every single night. I do make it a priority because I now know what can happen if sleep gets pushed to the back burner.

How about you? Are you getting enough sleep at night?
What are some things you can change to make your rest time a priority?

You Might Also Like:
Sleep in Times Past: 4 Hours at a Time
Blue Light, A Red Light for Sleep

Sources:
Web MD
Harvard Medical
Mythbusters

Originally posted 2013-08-01 20:49:57.

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