The University of Arizona logo

The Value of Sleep

“Sleep is the best meditation.” 

~Dalai Lama

Sleep, along with healthy eating and exercise, is considered one of the three pillars of health.  Adequate sleep is essential for our physical and emotional health.  Many of us aren’t sleeping enough in the name of productivity, too many responsibilities, and untreated insomnia.  In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimate that roughly 30% of the general population complains of sleep deprivation.1   To reap the benefits of sleep, consider the following ideas:

Overestimate your need for sleep. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends that the average adult get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  If you exercise regularly, have multiple responsibilities, and experience moderate to high levels of stress, aim for 8 hours of sleep or more each night. 

Remind yourself that sleep promotes your performance and productivity. 

Make sleep a top priority especially if you are actively working towards goals.   Our bodies perform based on the energy that we have.  Sleep gives us the dose of energy, repair, and restoration that our bodies need to function optimally. 

Even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood and mental sharpness. 

For example, our ability to manage stress is increased when we sleep adequately.   Without sleep, we are less emotionally stable (e.g., we cry more easily) and can feel overwhelmed by our feelings. Try to avoid going to bed and getting up at different times from day to day.  Consistency in your sleep and wake cycle is important.

Sleep deprived people tend to consume more calories.

In the Journal of Sleep, a study revealed that 14 sleep deprived participants consumed 1,000 calories in snacks compared to 600 calories for participants with a full night’s sleep. 

Sleep deprivation can result in physical illnesses. 

Major ones, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a weakened immune system.  Sleeplessness can take a toll on our health very slowly and silently resulting in health conditions that cannot be “undone.”3

Sleep can often be improved though effective stress management and exercise. 

Have you ever laid awake ruminating over past events or future concerns?  Daily exercise improves your ability to manage stress, while actively practicing relaxation will help you ground yourself psychologically and emotionally in the present moment. 


If you experience insomnia, help is available.   

If you experience insomnia for a short term, it is likely due to things in your life that will fade away as your practice good sleep hygiene.  If your insomnia is long standing, also known as chronic insomnia, talk to your doctor and insist on a referral to a sleep professional.  Professional counselors at Life and Work Connections can also help you find a provider specializing in insomnia. 

Start taking care of yourself today by focusing on getting adequate sleep.  For more information about the benefits of sleep, visit https://sleep.org/ and https://sleepfoundation.org/ .


Additional Resources

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/treatment/an-overview-of-sleep-disorders 
 
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/treatment/sleep-disorders-screening-survey 



1.  "Insomnia." -. Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.
2.  Reddy, Sumathi. "Why We Eat Too Much When We Don't Sleep Enough." WSJ. Wsj.com, 14 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.
3.  "Sleep and Disease Risk." Healthy Sleep. Harvard Medical, 18 Dec. 2007. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.