When your to-do list is seemingly a mile long, a good night’s sleep is often the first priority to go by the wayside. At the time, it can seem easy to forego a few extra hours of sleep in favor of getting more done, but researchers warn that lack of sleep could make you a “disaster waiting to happen.”
In fact, lack of sleep could be reducing the nervous system’s ability to respond to new information. A group of researchers at Washington State University tested out the effects of not getting enough sleep on a group of 26 volunteers. Half of the group was instructed not to sleep for two days, while the other half slept “normally.” Then, over the span of a week, the volunteers were put through a series of decision-making tests.
The well-rested group performed generally better than the sleep-deprived group across the board—though some tests were certainly worse than others. For instance, the volunteers were hooked up to electrodes to measure their body’s reaction to various stimuli and the sleep-deprived group’s results barely registered. It appeared lack of sleep had stunted their reactions.
While a few days of poor sleep may not have long-lasted negative consequences, you may want to hold off making any big decisions until you get a good night’s rest. Even if you feel like you’re functioning at a normal level, it may be hard to tell just how much sleep deprivation is affecting your ability to think critically and learn new information.
But how much sleep do you actually need? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep on average per night. So, how can you create better sleep habits?
3 Tips for Getting More Sleep
1. Get in bed at the same time every night
While it may seem arbitrary to have a “bed time,” going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can help train your body to know when it’s time to rest.
2. Turn off electronics an hour before going to sleep
If you’re guilty of scrolling through your smartphone in bed, breaking this habit may be the key to falling asleep faster. Try to avoid any “screen time” for at least an hour before bed to help your body get ready for a restful night.
3. Create a beneficial sleep environment
Your bedroom should be a haven for rest. Make sure your curtains block out enough light and invest in a pillow and mattress that makes you feel extra comfortable.
Getting more sleep is one of the easiest (and most enjoyable!) ways to improve your health. Want more tips on healthy sleep habits? Download our free guide to getting a better night’s sleep.