When you hear the words "self-care," what do you think of? For many, the practice is synonymous with working out, eating well, yoga and meditation. But what about a regular sleep schedule?
With the ongoing worry of a global pandemic, the strain of working from home and the fallout from a chaotic year in general, it's more important now than ever to prioritize sleep as a key pillar of health and wellbeing. A good night's sleep is important because, just like your overworked smartphone and laptop, your body needs to recharge in order to operate.
While many people can make it through a day or two of sluggishness, it's obvious that without proper sleep, no one can perform at their best. Canadian tennis star and Grand Slam champ, Bianca Andreescu, knows it and she's on a mission with Dormez-vous to "awaken Canadians to the power of sleep."
"We need to stop putting sleep on the bottom of our to-do list and instead recognize the tremendous benefits and strength that comes when we actively manage our sleep," says Bianca.
"If I don't get a good night's sleep then I can't function at my best the next day. Sleep is something I'm incredibly disciplined about - regardless of whether I'm competing or in my downtime. As an athlete, I need to be on my A-game all the time so I can continue to perform at an optimal level."
Considering that sleep is the foundation to better health and wellness, a consistent sleep schedule is essential to feeling and being your best self. There are ample mental and physical benefits you can achieve by putting the phone down and getting in more snooze time, and these are just a few.
Strengthen Your Immune System
You can't expect your body to fight off illnesses if you're not giving it what it needs. Your immune system is here to help you, so why not return the favour? Chances are, whenever you caught a cold when growing up, your parents told you to get lots of rest. They weren't exaggerating, as research has proven that sleep helps heal.
Lack of sleep actually reduces the production of antibodies and cells needed to fight infection. Getting the proper amount of sleep can strengthen your body's immune function, supplying your system with enough energy to do what it does best — fight for you.
Sharpen Your Mind
Have you ever tried focusing on a project while running on minimal hours of sleep? If so, you've probably realized it wasn't very successful.
And sleep experts agree. Poor sleep has a negative impact on thinking. Sleep helps improve your attention span, concentration and overall cognitive performance. Not only does it increase your ability to focus efficiently, but it also improves your memory.
So, the next time you insist on forcing yourself to stay up to finish work, perhaps opt for your bed instead of your desk.
Achieve Optimal Performance
If you're going to listen to anyone talk about achieving optimal performance, it should probably be a hardworking athlete. Bianca doesn't shy away in expressing the importance of championing sleep as much as she champions her sport.
"By taking a disciplined approach to my wellness and investing in my sleep regime in the same way I invest in my fitness regime, I am a higher performance athlete and a stronger, healthier, happier human being," she says.
Even if you don't have an athletic bone in your body, there's a lot to take from Bianca's mantra. Allowing your heart to rest and cells to repair will help your body recover after a long day. Full recovery of any physical exertion is like hitting the reset button on your body, both mentally and physically. You'll wake up feeling brand new, allowing you to tackle tasks with a fresh force.
Protect Your Physical Health
Sleep is critical for optimal physical health. Unfortunately, many people suffer from sleep disorders and don't seek help for their issues. Sleep deprivation studies have revealed that not getting enough sleep each night is linked to harmful health effects such as increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose and increased inflammation.
Improve Your Mental Health
Sleep also plays a huge factor in the state of your mental health. An adequate amount of sleep enables the brain to process emotional information, allowing you to access positive thoughts that can influence your perspective.
Regulation of your emotional state is of utmost importance when it comes to taking care of yourself. Without mental clarity and peace of mind, it's hard to enjoy even the simplest joys in life.
Enhance Your Productivity
Productivity is all about energy, which leads to enhanced motivation and ambition to take on the day! It's common sense to know that lack of sufficient sleep won't assist you in being productive. When you're tired, all you want to do is plop down on your mattress and take to Netflix for the rest of the day.
Many people believe that being productive involves working day and night, but Bianca Andreescu wants to set things straight: "There are so many people that say, 'To work harder you need to work longer' and that's just not true. We need our sleep."
When it comes down to it, sleep is the catalyst to achieving optimum performance in all mental and physical aspects.
Nurture Your Body
Research suggests that a single night of insufficient sleep can cause puffy eyes pesky fine lines and pale skin. When you're deep in slumber, your skin's blood flow increases, promoting collagen and repairing any unwelcome damage.
Besides giving you skin goals, sleep also helps nurture your body by managing your cortisol levels — aka the stress hormone. Have you ever taken a "stress nap"? Yeah, you're not alone. A little siesta is actually a productive way to rejuvenate.
Sleep is the fuel that powers your day and helps you feel and be your best self. And just as Bianca Andreescu prioritizes sleep in order to bring her A-game in tennis, Canadians should prioritize a good night's sleep to help them feel and be their best self.
Dormez-vous is on a mission to "awaken Canadians to the power of sleep." Their trusted and knowledgeable Sleep Experts help find personalized sleep solutions tailored to each individual's needs, ensuring every Canadian achieves their best night's sleep.