Why Sleep Is So Important (Benefits + Tips)

We're told to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly if we want to optimize our health. The fourth pillar of health, though—one that many people don't prioritize nearly as well as they'd like to—is getting enough quality, consistent sleep.

But why is sleep important? Learn the reasons we need sleep, plus a few tips for getting better quality rest, below.

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep is the time when the mind and body are able to recharge and rejuvenate. At rest, the body has an opportunity to heal its tissues, dispose of dead or damaged cells, restore brain function and memory capabilities, and more.

It can't be understated enough: when humans don't get enough sleep, their brains and bodies suffer extraordinarily. From a holistic standpoint, sleep improves nearly every facet of our lives. Like any other healthy habit, it should be prioritized as much as possible.

Benefits of Sleep

  • More energy throughout the day
  • Disease prevention
  • Better immune system function
  • Improved mental health (less anxiety, depressive states)
  • Improved brain function and memory
  • Better athletic performance
  • Easier to lose or maintain a healthy body weight

How Much Sleep Do We Need?

According to the Sleep Foundation, adults should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. That said, sleep needs are an individual thing, and tend to change as we get older. Science shows, for example, that people over 55 tend to need less sleep and spend less time in deep rest when sleeping as compared to younger people.

It's important to understand that not every minute of sleep is created equal. In fact, we move between four different stages of sleep, and one sleep cycle lasts approximately ninety minutes. Only a portion of each cycle is spent in deep sleep, the most important type of sleep for rest, rejuvenation, and overall health.

This also helps explain why you sometimes wake up feeling groggy and sometimes refreshed if you set an alarm in the morning. In the middle of a cycle, your body's fast at work repairing itself. Only towards the beginning end of a cycle when you are in shallower levels of sleep does one generally wake up feeling spry and energized.

3 Tips for Getting Better Quality Sleep

You know why sleep is important—now here are some tips to help improve the quality of your rest.

1. Stick to Your Sleep Routine

One or two nights per week of seven to nine hours isn't enough. Our bodies fall into a rhythm naturally (known as your circadian rhythm) with waking and resting states. This cycle runs on a 24 hour clock.

For this reason, ideally, you should go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. This helps regulate hormones in the body responsible for falling asleep, staying asleep, and feeling energized throughout the day. Like most healthy habits, consistency is the best way to get results.

If you have trouble falling asleep, choosing the same bedtime and wake time each night can also help your body naturally start to wind down.

2. Create an Ideal Sleep Environment for Yourself

Staying asleep through the night helps your body move through each sleep cycle seamlessly. 

Ways to promote your sleep environment include:

  • Sleeping in a cool room so you don't wake up from being too hot
  • Limiting noises and distractions
  • Using a white noise machine
  • Avoiding drinking liquids in the hours before bed to limit bathroom breaks at night
  • Removing electronics and lights in your room

Making sure you feel comfortable in bed is one of the keys to staying asleep all night. 

3. Sleep with Proper Spinal Alignment

Studies show 60 to 80 percent of adults suffer from back pain, and as much as 70 percent deal with neck pain. Pain or even mild aches can prevent you from getting deep, restorative sleep. 

We spend years of our lives sleeping, so it's important to find the correct posture to support restful sleep. Most adults sleep on their side, which is the ideal posture for preventing both back and neck pain (as well as other ailments, like sleep apnea).

See how the Neck Nest can help promote better posture when sleeping to limit neck and back issues throughout the day.

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