Why You Should Get More Sleep

There are many reasons to get seven or eight hours of shuteye.

Author by John Devore
Credit: iStock

There are many reasons to get more sleep but here’s an important one: you may die prematurely if you don’t. This isn’t my opinion. This is just what science is saying. Science is goth.

According to research revealed during the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, getting eight hours of sleep a night can reduce the risk of stroke. Another study out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that middle-aged men who slept less than five hours had significantly increased risk of cardiac events. And, finally, a recent sleep study out of the University of California seems to confirm a direct connection between sleeping fewer hours, and living shorter lives.

Even the Centers for Disease Control claims sleeping less than seven hours can lead to obesity, diabetes, and mental distress, all contributing factors to an early demise.

It is true, of course, that no one lives forever. I personally plan on shuffling off this mortal coil at 120 years old, probably due to some kind of cyborg heart malfunction. But these studies, and many more like them, all seem to agree that getting a full night’s sleep is probably a good idea, especially if you want to live a healthier, more productive—and longer—life.

But avoiding the Grim Reaper isn’t the only reason why you should get more sleep. And, for the record, I am more than sympathetic to all the many reasons getting seven or eight hours of shuteye can be a challenge, from work stress to anxiety, to physical discomfort. I sometimes can’t sleep because my brain at a night is like a monkey with a Rubix’s cube.

The best reason to get more sleep is that sleep feels good. It feels good to slip under the covers and rest your head on a big fluffy pillow. It feels good to wake up rested and ready for whatever the day has planned. My life is more fun when my internal battery icon reads “100%.”

Sometimes, in the middle of the afternoon, I close my eyes and think about that moment when I can collapse onto my mattress (that link goes to Casper, my favorite mattress company, who also happen to be my benevolent employers.) I really look forward to tucking myself in, after a long day, and reading a book about history or a sci-fi novel. Sleeping is a pleasure.

I love cool, crisp sheets. I love comfy marshmallow rectangles designed to partner with my weary body, and I love that nanosecond before I’m asleep when I become a hot air balloon.

In some ways, I see no difference between my bed, my favorite food, and my favorite kind of exercise. Life is short (unless you’re a cyborg) and it should be enjoyed. Treat yourself to a slice of pizza. Take a hike in the woods. Get a deep, delicious, sleep. Yes, eating veggies, and breaking a sweat, and making sure you get eight hours of Zzzs, will improve your health and make you more productive. But, also, do them because they are a nice thing to do for you. Do things that are nice to yourself and others. This is my life philosophy.

And, yes, if you eat nothing but garbage, and put down roots into the cushions of your couch, and stay up all night reading stories about how staying up all night will kill you, your wellbeing will suffer. I am not a medical professional. I am not even a sleep expert, even though I’ve been doing it my whole life, whether I liked it or not. I’m just a person who really thinks you should take real good care of yourself.

There is too much emphasis on working and hustling and performing. If the universe wanted us to toil, non-stop, it wouldn’t have invented sweatpants and Pad Thai and yoga. I know there are people out there who may disagree with me. That is okay. Here’s a story: I once worked with a person who was proud of the fact that he didn’t need eight hours of sleep. As if he had a superpower. It’s not. He was always first into the office, and the last out. He’d brag about only needing four hours sleep and suggest that I was weak for needing more. My response was, usually, “enjoy life, bro.” This was years ago—I don’t know where he is now. But I hope he’s getting more sleep. I’ve read some recent research that highly suggests it’s a smart move.

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