by Patrick Wolf, Diamond VP of Sales and Education
Last week, I met a friend for lunch whom I haven’t seen for almost a year. Dave was already seated at a table when I arrived and waved from the corner booth when I walked in. As I got closer, I noticed that he looked different from the last time I saw him. You know, like when someone gets a haircut that’s the same style they’ve always had but it’s just perfect somehow that makes them look different. That’s how he looked to me in that moment.
After a warm greeting, I said to him, “You look great, Dave, something’s different about you though. You fall in love or something?”
Dave grinned from ear to ear, chuckled and said, “It’s not a girl. It’s sleep, man! This past year I’ve been able to focus more on my health and now I’m sleeping like seven or eight hours each night. It’s changed my life. It’s like I’m a whole new person.”
Many people are like the old Dave. They go through life chronically sleep deprived, and they are so used to it that they think it’s normal. Some even brag about it. But as Dave discovered, good sleep has the power to transform your life in many ways.
1. Gives you positive outlook and energy
– Whether you’re more like the old Dave or the new Dave, you know how it feels after a good night’s sleep. You have (I hope) experienced that rejuvenated feeling when you’ve sleep really well, maybe even woke up naturally before your alarm, and ready to take on the day. Imagine experiencing that just about every day because you’ve adopted healthy sleep habits and made the lifestyle choice to caring for your mind and body every night with quality sleep.
2. Sharpens your mind
– Lack of sleep affects the brain big time. It slows your response time to stimuli and lowers your ability to focus, both of which can have a detrimental effect on decision-making. That’s why sleep deprivation is linked to higher risk of accidents on the road
and at work. Being short on sleep also affects your memory, which is particularly prevalent in students in high school and college who are notorious for staying up late for various reasons. It’s during sleep that the brain does its critical work of processing, organizing and storing all the information it’s gathered all day.
3. Helps you achieve goals – With more energy, a positive outlook and sharp mind, it only makes sense that good sleep can help you achieve your goals. That’s why in recent years, we’re hearing more people from top athletes and celebrities to high-powered business executives and world leaders touting the virtues of good sleep that helps them perform mentally and physically.
4. Lifts your spirits – Reaping benefits to the mind and body will naturally lead to better mood and emotional well-being. Processing emotions is another brain activity during sleep. We’ve all experienced or at least observed how being tired (presumably from lack of sleep) can adversely affect an emotional response to a situation that’s perceived as negative and reduces one’s coping skills. Studies have shown that insomnia increases by up to five times the risk of developing depression, anxiety or other mood disorders.
5. Improves relationships
– When we’re not tired, we tend to “do life” much better, handling the normal stresses of daily life at work and at home. It’s important to realize that it’s not the things and events we are responding to throughout the day. It boils down to relationships and interactions with people – spouse, significant other, children, coworkers, or the neighbor who can’t keep his dog in his yard. Perhaps the greatest benefit of good sleep is that it allows us to be better in our relationships because we can manage our emotions, have energy and sharpness to engage mentally and physically, and generally be in better mood when with others.
6. Helps you live longer – There’s a tremendous amount of scientific research that links sleep deprivation (caused by a variety of things from stress to sleep apnea or worse) to increased risk of physical health problems such as heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. Quality sleep achieved through consistent healthy sleep habits and routine can add years to your life. Just ask science… more specifically, Google, and get ready for the avalanche of studies around the world.
7. Connects you to yourself – At the root of the above items 1-5 lies the sense of feeling connected to yourself. In other words, feeling grounded or in tune with yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically. Those who practice sleep wellness tend to be those who have a very strong connection with what they need on different levels. They seem to move through the day and their lives with a strong sense of themselves and their place and purpose in the world.
Perhaps the next time I meet Dave, I’ll ask him whether he’s experienced any of these ways sleep can transform one’s life.