This just in; poor sleep leads to loneliness. According to a study from UC Berkeley, folk who are regularly sleep-deprived feel more isolated and are less likely to engage with others, avoiding close interaction in much the same way as those suffering from social anxiety. 

That’s not all. The study further revealed that people who don’t get their fair share of Zzzeds are more socially unattractive to others and suggested that ‘’even well-rested people feel lonely after just a short encounter with a sleep-deprived individual, triggering a viral contagion of isolation’’. 

Fascinating stuff. But aside from the fact that sleeping less might be losing you friends, why else is it so important? To answer that question, here are 5 IDEAL reasons why you should make sleep a priority, and the best ways to do just that.

FIRSTLY, HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU REALLY NEED?

Researchers are still figuring out exactly what happens in our bodies and brains while we catch those also important zeds. What is clear is that sleep is the key to locking in memories and trimming unnecessary details accumulated from the day that can clutter your thinking and cause you to feel lethargic.

Yep, sleep is a powerful thing; when you’re sleeping, your brain gets rid of information you no longer need – freeing up brainpower for the details and memories that matter. Incredible.

It’s not only in the mind. When you sleep, you give your body a chance to rejuvenate itself, too. On the flip side, regularly skipping sleep can:  

– Negatively impact your immune system: sleep deprivation decreases your body’s ability to fight infection.

– Alter the ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin, and increase the risk of obesity.

Make you irritable and stressed, impacting on your relationships and overall outlook on life.

– Interfere with productivity and memory (interestingly, too much sleep can also affect your memory negatively)

– Increase the risk of medical problems such as heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.

To avoid these risks, most healthy adults should aim to sleep 7 to 9 hours a night, with babies, children and teens requiring even more. That said, these are only rough guidelines and several factors are at play which determine exactly how much sleep you should be getting. 

Should you find that your relationships with your partner, family, friends and colleagues are suffering because you’re restless and sleep deprived, then here’s how to take control of your sleep hygiene.

HOW TO MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY

Need to fit more sleep into your life? It’s not actually as hard as you might think. Here’s a few simple hacks that you can try tonight and onwards into the future:

– Start small: Consider going to bed just 10 to 15 minutes earlier at first. In cases where you nap during the day (hey, it works for some), push your bedtime back another 15 minutes.

– Make your bedroom environment more conducive to sleep: ensure the mattress you’re using is comfortable enough for your sleeping position. If you’re a side sleeper, consider investing in the best mattress for side sleepers. Should you suffer from back pain, seek a mattress which ranges between 6.5 to 7.5 for firmness.

– Limit naps: To make sure you get both quantity and quality sleep, reduce daytime naps to a maximum of 20 minutes.

– Reduce caffeine intake: If you’re an avid coffee drinker and your sleep isn’t getting any better, try to avoid caffeine anytime after midday so you can feel sleepy when bedtimes roll around.

– Make it a habit: Work on a bedtime routine and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time daily. This can work wonders for getting your brain into a routine where it knows when to start releasing that lovely sleep hormone melatonin at just the right time

THE BOTTOM LINE

Getting a good night’s sleep has been proved to enhance our mood, social engagement, and cognitive function. Without it, as the study by the University of Berkeley suggested, we cannot nurture a thriving social life, and our mental as well as our physical health may well suffer. Do everything you can to sleep well, soundly and deeply, and you’ll live a fruitful life when you’re awake, too!