The Healing Power of Sleep

Whether you’re up with your kids, pulling late nights at work, or struggling with insomnia,
you know how hard it is to function when you haven’t had a good night’s rest.
But why is sleep so important to our health, and what happens when we don’t get enough?

Our need for sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping, during which time the body performs a whole slew of vital functions. Here are some of them:
  • Improving focus

    During the day, your brain produces a chemical called adenosine that causes you to feel drowsy. While you sleep, your body clears itself of this chemical.

  • Body building

    Restorative actions like tissue repair and muscle growth mostly—and sometimes only—happen while you’re sleeping.

  • Releasing tension

    When you enter the REM cycle of sleep, tight muscles loosen. Not only does this help you relax, it may also alleviate chronic pain symptoms.

Effects of sleep deprivation

While adequate rest helps keep you humming, lack of sleep can do serious physical and mental damage.

Here are some of the negative effects sleep deprivation may have on your health:

Weight Gain
As reported by Sleep.org, women who only get five hours or less of sleep at night are 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of 16 years than those who sleep for at least seven hours. Sleep deprivation can affect your brain in a similar way to alcohol, dulling activity in the area responsible for decision-making and impulse control and causing you to crave comfort. This means you’re way more likely to make bad choices—a donut from the break room, fast food for lunch, an XL latte in the afternoon. A University of Chicago study found underslept subjects selected snacks with twice as much fat as those chosen by participants who got at least eight hours of sleep. Since people are also less inclined to exercise when they’re tired AND research suggests lack of sleep can negatively impact your metabolism, not getting enough rest can really take its toll on your waistline.

Difficulty focusing
We all know the feeling of muddling through the day at work after staying up to late. You can’t concentrate, you find yourself zoning out when you should be listening, and even basic tasks are a challenge. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation impairs attention, alertness, and focus as well as your ability to reason and solve problems. While a sleepy, wasted day on the job every now and then is no big deal, chronic exhaustion can impact on your productivity.

Slowed reaction time
A report released in 2016 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drivers who only get five or six hours of sleep in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as those who get 7+ hours. As Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA. told NPR after the study was released, “If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.” While it’s probably unrealistic to expect people to refrain from driving every time they have a sleepless night, you might want to consider a different form of transporation if you’re feeling particularly tired.
Getting a good night’s rest
Now that you know how critical sleep is, how do you make sure you’re getting enough? Here are some of our favorite ways to ensure a good night’s rest.
Get outside
Exposure to natural light helps your body maintain its circadian rhythms, and exercising outdoors is a great way to wear yourself out!
Put down your devices
Ever pick up your phone to check your email once more at bedtime and find yourself mindlessly scrolling
through social media an hour (or more) later? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, looking at your phone or other device before bed takes its toll on your brain and body. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the stream of photons coming from your screen tells your brain to hold off on secreting melatonin because it’s not time to sleep yet.
Use aromatherapy
We love using essential oils for relaxation, which is why we feature them in so many of our products.
Want to promote calm feelings while hydrating and nourishing your skin? You’ll love our Quench whipped body butter and Soul Soak milk bath. Both of these luxuriously moisturizing products feature lavender, an oil revered for its relaxing, stress-relieving, and sleep-promoting properties. We’ve also specifically formulated a restful blend of essential oils for our Sleepy Splendor rollerball, and our Peace Out pillow spray is designed to help you drift peacefully to sleep. Aromatherapy is an excellent addition to any bedtime routine. Now get some sleep!