Fortify Yourself: Address Fatigue!
Believing we don’t need to rest is a bad thing.
We’ve rapidly arrived at an era in history that demands a tremendous amount of energy. Personally & publicly, intellectually & emotionally, physically & spiritually, most of us are pouring vast amounts of energy into life. Even simple day-to-day routines can feel like hurdles in the midst of such worldwide flux and crisis.
Isn’t it time to stop treating rest like a luxury and start relying on it as the building block of health? If you’re being pulled to devote yourself to the things you feel you were put on the planet to do and you're simultaneously trying to maintain health, then you simply have to fortify yourself with proper rest and recovery.
Think about this:
Without adequate sleep...
We don’t think clearly.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting enough sleep (which typically means about 8 hours a night) improves attention, recall, learning, and problem-solving. In 2006, Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science (and author of Why We Sleep), wanted to know if his students were wise to pull “all-nighters” before exams. Working with a control group (that slept adequately) and a sleep-deprived group, he found that the latter was 40% less able to “cram new facts into the brain.” The act of sleeping cements learning and memory!
We’re more emotionally reactive.
We already know this, right? Undersleep and you could just find yourself snapping at others, getting weepy over minor incidents, and losing your normally sunny perspective. Additional research by Walker revealed that, when subjects were sleep-deprived, the amygdala in the brain, which is linked with flight-or-flight responses and very strong emotions, “showed well over a 60% amplification in emotional reactivity.” He further showed that, with adequate sleep, the prefrontal cortex of the brain can better couple with the amygdala, regulating these overly reactive emotional responses.
We’re more likely to become physically sick or diseased.
The body repairs itself during sleep. You’re not just likely to experience more injuries, soreness, and slower recovery without enough sleep. According to the CDC, lack of sleep contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. It will also suppress your immune system. A Mayo Clinic article explains that, when we sleep, the body produces cytokines, proteins that are protective when we’re fighting infection, inflammation, or suffering from stress. Infection fighting antibodies drop when we don’t sleep enough.
And we’re more likely to be depressed.
According to the UK’s National Health Service, “When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than 6 hours a night.” The link between sleep and anxiety & depression have been widely studied. The Sleep Foundation points to research stating, people with insomnia “are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety.” The relationship is complicated because lack of sleep can trigger depression, but depression can also cause insomnia.
Last but not least, we’re technically “impaired.”
According to the CDC, people who sleep less than six hours are more likely to fall asleep while driving. It cites a 2015 National Highway Safety report that provides this terrifying stat: Approximately 1 out of 25 adults aged 18 years and older surveyed reported that they had fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days. In the workplace, highly sleepy workers are 70% more likely to be involved in accidents (National Sleep Foundation). Trying to navigate daily life without too little sleep means literally functioning while impaired.
Is it really the time to navigate the world in such a state? Is it EVER? While generating sound sleep can seem like an onerous task for many of us, it’s a crucial one to take on. If you’re struggling, check out the National Sleep Foundation’s “Healthy Sleep Tips.” Why go through life foggy, grouchy, more likely to be depressed, and more prone to serious (or even fatal) accidents? Address fatigue by cultivating a good night’s sleep—just about every night.