7 Science-Backed Reasons To Rekindle Your Relationship With Sleep

7 Science-Backed Reasons To Rekindle Your Relationship With Sleep
If you want to perform at your best, both at work and at home, you have to get enough sleep. That’s why Thrive Global, a behavior change platform, is focused on lowering stress and increasing well-being and productivity—and sleep is a huge part of that equation. The company, founded by Arianna Huffington, creates lasting change in people’s lives by giving them sustainable, science-backed solutions to enhance their performance and overall well-being. Building on the success of Huffington’s best-selling book The Sleep Revolution, Thrive Global has made sleep a key part of its DNA, helping individuals and organizations give sleep the respect it deserves, with all the benefits that brings.
This includes putting a spotlight on all the ways we’re failing to make sleep a priority—and how we can change that.

The phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” for example, perfectly captures our collective attitude toward sleep. We tell ourselves that we have to banish sleep from our lives, or at least get a lot less of it than we’d like, in order to be productive, effective and successful. With so much to be done, created, and achieved, why shortchange ourselves by sleeping our lives away?

But we’re paying a price for this collective delusion. A mountain of research tells us this simple truth: when it comes to sleep, we’re just not getting enough. (Adults need 7 to 9 hours per night.) And the consequences affect every aspect of our lives, from our health and productivity to our relationships and happiness. By skimping on sleep, we actually shortchange ourselves – and when we do, it’s much harder for us to attain peak performance at work, build meaningful relationships and tap into our creativity and ingenuity to solve big problems.

The ripple effect of our collective lack of sleep is global, transcending borders, languages and cultures. And it connects to something even bigger: a global epidemic of stress and burnout, driven in large part by our relationship to technology. We’re more connected than ever, plugged-in and reachable 24/7. And even beyond the demands of work, we’re addicted to our devices.
When we’re unable to set boundaries with technology, our sleep suffers. That blue light given off by your electronic devices? It suppresses melatonin, making it much harder to fall asleep. And when huge numbers of people are actually sleeping with their smartphones, it’s a problem – and one that will only get bigger as smartphone ownership increases around the world.


The good news is we’re at a turning point in our relationship with sleep. It’s no exaggeration to say we’re living through a sleep science renaissance. Study after study confirms that far from being empty time, sleep is a period of intense renewal that exponentially enhances the quality of our waking hours. So for anyone who’s ever bragged “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” here are 7 findings that emphasize just how closely sleep is linked to performance – at work and at home, in every phase and aspect of our lives.

1. Sleep deprivation is catastrophic for your productivity.

It’s easy to assume that as long as we’re not pulling all-nighters, we won’t suffer any adverse sleep-related consequences. But a study published in the journal Sleep found that participants who were restricted to six hours of sleep a night for a two week period functioned as poorly as those who were made to stay up for two days straight, as Fast Company reported.

2. Sleep deprivation makes it almost impossible to excel – at anything.
Whatever profession you’re in and however you define success, you have to be able to think critically, connect with others and build productive, meaningful relationships. But when we don’t get enough sleep, all of those areas suffer. One study found that insufficient sleep can temporarily reduce a range of performance-related abilities including emotional intelligence, impulse control and empathy.

3. Sleep’s importance is apparent even before you’re born.

In adults, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when dreaming occurs and memories are stored. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that fetuses start exhibiting what looks like REM sleep beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy.

4. We may be able to learn new things while we sleep.

A small but intriguing recent study found that our brains can create new memories while we sleep. “We proved that you can learn during sleep, which has been a topic debated for years,” study author Thomas Andrillon, a neuroscientist at PSL Research University in Paris, told the Washington Post.
5. Fifty-eight percent of Indians believe lack of sleep is negatively affecting their work.

And 15 percent wake up in the night because of work-related stress, according to The Times of India.

6. There is such a thing as a “power nap.”

Next time someone questions why you take naps, you can direct them to all the research that shows how naps strengthen some of our key cognitive functions, including memory. In one study, researchers at Germany’s Saarland University had participants learn single words and word pairs. Then, half of the group watched a DVD and the other half napped. Members of the napping group retained significantly more word pairs than their DVD-watching counterparts, resulting, as the lead author put it, in “a five-fold improvement in information retrieval from memory.”

7. Sleep deprivation is fueling a global burnout epidemic

And in extreme cases, it can be deadly. In fact, death from overwork even has its own word in Japanese (karoshi), in Chinese (guolaosi), and in Korean (gwarosa).

In India, according to one study of 25 cities across the country, an astounding 93 percent of respondents reported being sleep deprived.

This article is authored by Gregory Beyer