We all know what a bad night’s sleep can do. It turns us into irritable, irrational, incapable zombies. It can make or break the following day and it has all kinds of repercussions for our personal, social and work lives.
Still, few of us give sleep the respect it deserves. We think we can survive on five or six hours during the week when the experts say otherwise, telling ourselves that we’ll make up for it over the weekend. But, unfortunately, that just ain’t gonna cut it. And unless you’re lucky enough to be in a job that pays you to sleep, like professional sleepers are, this is something you’ll have to monitor every night of the week.
In today’s career-driven society, sleep just isn’t a priority. Even when we’re supposed to be shutting down before bedtime, we’re scrolling through emails or checking appointments on our phones in bed.
Perhaps if more people knew all the advantages of a good night’s sleep, they’d go to bed a little earlier. And they’d wake up earlier. And they’d be more ready to face the day instead of pushing that ‘snooze’ button until the last possible moment.
So here are 10 benefits of going to sleep early – and how doing so can even lead to a more successful career.
1. Improves Appearance
Let’s start with the shallow stuff.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your skin becomes pallid and puffy, you get those dark circles that tell the world how your night was and you face most people with a stifled yawn. On the other hand, when you’re well-rested, your eyes sparkle, your skin glows and you greet people with a sunny smile. I know which person I’d rather have working beside me!
Oh, and as an added bonus, sleeping properly actually helps you to lose weight. Not that that’s of huge importance to your career, but if you start feeling more comfortable with your appearance, chances are your behaviour and actions will reflect that new confidence.
2. Reduces Stress
Lying awake, tossing and turning until the wee hours certainly doesn’t help our anxiety levels. And if you stay up late watching TV, checking social media, scrubbing the bathroom ceiling or whatever evening activity you’re into, it’ll be much harder for your mind to settle down when it needs to.
By going to bed at an early hour, you’re giving your body and mind plenty of time to relax – easing you gently into sweeter dreams and a happier you come morning.
3. Boosts Health
Sleep deprivation has all kinds of consequences for our mental and physical health. From insomnia to depression, diabetes to heart disease, the effects of poor sleep have been proven time and time again.
But getting sufficient quality sleep every night does just the opposite. It boosts your immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to illness. It makes you feel calmer and less anxious and it turns you into an overall healthier person. Whatever your ailment (like back pain, for example), sleep can ease its pain. So skip those miraculous supplements your colleague recommended (that only cost a week’s earnings for a single bottle)… and get your Zs in instead.
4. Enhances Sex Life
Without going into too much of the science stuff (or detailed erotica!), getting enough sleep can turn your sex drive on and up, big time. Firstly, you’ll actually have the energy to do more than flop into bed when the day’s done. Secondly, the lovely hormones released during sex – oxytocin, serotonin and the like – leave you feeling all relaxed and content. You end up getting a better sleep because of it which, lo and behold, boosts your sex life even further.
Now there’s a vicious circle to get on board with – your partner won’t know what hit ’em.
5. Improves Your Relationships
Not just those beneath the sheets. No, being well-rested means you’re less prone to mood swings, more tolerant of others and have more energy to cultivate the relationships that matter. Whether it’s with your family, your boss, your dog or your milkman, sleeping properly makes you a nicer person – with better relationships as a result.
6. Spreads Loving-Kindness
So maybe you think all this talk of metta is for hippies and The Beatles. But, actually, it applies to all of us today, and we’ve never needed it more! Being kinder, more aware and more thoughtful of others is an important lesson that, as life students, we could all do with learning.
That way, our world could be filled with calmness, forgiveness and gratitude, instead of stress, anger and selfishness. I know which one looks better to me.
Imagine if you could be a ‘morning person’ all the time. Someone who greets the world with a smile. Without even a caffeine rush to hold it in place. That’s what an early night can do.
7. Fosters Productivity
When you’re tired, you don’t have enough energy to do very much. It ain’t rocket science. Conversely, when you’re well-rested, you’re suddenly capable of that elusive term – multitasking – and no obstacle in your personal or work life can break your motivation.
You find yourself clearing your inbox, finishing that presentation and landing that client before you’ve even broken for lunch. When, previously, you’ve just about managed to switch on your computer and not fall asleep at it.
Of course, there are lots of ways in which you can become more productive at work. But getting to bed early is one of the easiest. And it’s free… so what’s not to love?!
8. Helps with Decision-Making
There are reasons for the expression ‘let’s sleep on it’. Because without enough sleep, our cognitive performance suffers dramatically. With that comes an inability to make wise decisions (if you’ve ever chosen a plate of pastries over a bowl of porridge for breakfast, you’ll know what I mean). Your mind is too tired to think straight, so your emotions and impulses take over. You choose the pastries. You shout at the driver who cut you off. You sign off on that copy when it’s missing a crucial paragraph. All because you slept badly.
We can make excuses for our poor judgement, but not getting enough sleep is actually a pretty valid one. Still, 9 times out of 10 you have yourself to blame. You have the power to sleep better and, in turn, make smarter decisions. Don’t waste it.
9. Sparks Creativity
We now know that the brain doesn’t rest when we sleep; in fact, it becomes pretty active. It creates and consolidates memories based on the events of the day, it resolves plans for tomorrow and does all kinds of things of which our waking mind isn’t even aware.
Some of our best ideas can form while we sleep – we just don’t realise it at the time. No, that genius strategy wasn’t given as a gift by the Tooth Fairy. It may have been implanted in a dream, but it was all the work of your clever, clever mind.
Bottom line: if you want to be awake enough for great ideas, start by going to sleep. It may sound counterintuitive, but give it a try… and your overhead light won’t be the only bulb going off come morning!
10. Improves Memory
As we rest, our brain goes into overdrive. It makes all these neural connections, finds patterns and saves these points into memories that our waking selves can fall back on during the day.
Don’t believe me? Well, think back to the last time you had a really, really bad sleep. I’ll bet you were hard-pushed to remember your boss’s name, let alone something of greater importance like last quarter’s sales.
Some people fall back on excuses like, ‘Oh, I’m just terrible with names… never forget a face, though!’ and so on. But getting enough sleep on a regular basis actually improves your memory in all aspects of life. Names, faces, statistics, directions – all will become ingrained in your brain, turning you into the nerd you’ve always wanted to be!
Now if that doesn’t spell career success, I don’t know what does.
Can you think of any other awesome benefits of sleeping early? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our list of the healthiest careers!