Sleep Your Way to Happiness

We get it. You’re busy. Whether it’s your full-time job, your part-time job that supplements your full-time job, or your side hustle, you’ve got things to do and places to be. And when the calendar starts filling up, the only way to have more time is to make it, which means cutting time somewhere else. For a lot of us, that somewhere else is our sleep schedule.

It shouldn’t be. Here’s why:

Feeling Drowsy?

Living your life takes energy, and when you’re awake, your body is constantly breaking down a chemical in your brain called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), resulting in adenosine build-up. The more adenosine in your brain, the drowsier you are. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain can’t clear out the adenosine, leaving you feeling tired even when you’re awake.

Keeping Your Amygdala in Check

The amygdala is the emotional center of your brain, responsible for triggering fight or flight. Feeling fear, anger, or stress? Thank your amygdala. When your brain is well rested, your prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain right behind your forehead responsible for personality, decision making, and most conscious thought) keeps your amygdala in check, making you less likely to have mood swings and helping you decide not to tell your co-worker off for interrupting you. But if you’re not sleeping enough, the prefrontal cortex can’t keep up, which is bad for your mood. In fact, it can make you 5 times more likely to develop depression.

More Sleep = Less Stress

Studies show a link between stress over deadlines and lack of sleep, with 40% of adults who sleep less than 8 hours claiming they feel overwhelmed. Feeling stressed is a result of a chain reaction in your brain—your brain releases a hormone called CRH, which tells your pituitary gland to product ACTH, which tells your adrenal gland to release adrenaline and other stress hormones. A good night’s sleep has been shown to stop this chain reaction.

Get Happy, Start Sleeping.

The Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night for people ages 18 to 64 years old. So if you needed an excuse to sleep in tomorrow morning, now you have one.

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