Sleep Benefits: More Than Just Vanity

Like you, I’m sure, I’ve heard that “You need to get more sleep” line for years. And like you too, I’m just as certain, I blew off that advice for decades thinking I was doing myself and others a much better service by powering through being tired.

Recently, though, I’ve looked at sleep very differently. “Look” is the key word, and yes, a good part of it is vanity-motivated. Every morning I wake up absolutely convinced I’m still 18 – until someone with lines of chronological experience etched on his face scares the hell out of me by looking back in the mirror when I shave.

At the same time, I’ve started seeing more and more articles appear about the benefits of sleep from a scientific point of view. The bottom line, according to what I’ve seen that’s only recently been discovered, is that our brains need unconscious down time to manage themselves by cutting unneeded neuron connections and consolidating others we make during the day. The result of that unconscious activity, which can be greater than our awake brain activity, becomes clear after a good night of sleep through improved memory, creativity, mood, outlook and physical wellbeing. Personally, the thing I notice most immediately when I follow a regular healthy sleep routine is that I’m greeted by a less chronologically worn face in the mirror when I get up to shave in the morning. Sure, just vanity, but that vanity can be a real motivator with much more meaningful side benefits.

Here are a few links that provide additional information about sleep:

Benefits of Sleep (3 short videos):  http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep

Scientific American, August 2013: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sleep-brains-way-staying-balance-video-giulio-tononi

11 Health Benefits of Sleep: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html

 

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