“By far, the best investment you can make is in yourself.” – Warren Buffett
When we think of self-improvement— eating better, exercising, sticking to a budget, earning a master’s degree—we generally think of making short-term sacrifices for long-term success. One thing you shouldn’t forego? Sleep. It’s the easiest thing to cut out when we’re busy (final exams, juggling jobs and school and life); however, getting adequate sleep is one of the easiest, quickest, and surest ways to improve your life and your chances of success.
Why a sleep article? Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And living thorough the COVID-19 era has put mental health in a very overdue spotlight. Sleep is a free tool at our immediate disposal, scientifically proven to boost our mood and worldview, and a factor within our control.
“Sleep is often viewed as a "third wheel” to exercise and nutrition,” says Girish Harinath MBS’20, who has studied sleep extensively—particularly in relation to aging. “In reality,” says Harinath, “getting quality sleep sets the foundation for all other habits we incorporate into our lives.”
So if you’re re-prioritizing commitments—as a recent MBS graduate, during semester-break, or just in general— put “getting adequate sleep” at the top of your list. Here are five reasons why:
You’ll improve your health and quality of life
Sleep is restorative: It boosts your immune system, your mood, your productivity, and your happiness. It boosts your attention span, your attention to detail, and your ability to learn and retain concepts—all critical elements of success.
Conversely, research shows that chronic sleep deprivation—regularly sleeping less than six hours per night—can have a negative impact on the exact same functions that are maintained and/or improved by adequate sleep, including immune health, cardiovascular fitness, and brain elasticity.
Most experts agree that hitting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night is key.
You’ll be more inclined to eat right and exercise
Sleep increases motivation and regulates impulsivity. “Without a good night's sleep, it’s harder to have the motivation to START exercising,” says Harinath. “Further, a bad night's sleep has profound [negative] effects on physical performance and endurance, so even if you manage to motivate yourself to exercise, you wouldn’t reap the same benefits from your session.”
Sleep also plays a huge role in limiting impulsivity, says Harinath, so with disruption or shortage, “that morning breakfast donut or extra serving of pasta is a lot harder to resist.”
You’ll feel happier
Of course you feel better when you’re well-rested! There’s reason for that: A solid rest includes REM sleep, “[which] seems to be critical for our ability to process and deal with complex emotions,” says Harinath.“REM sleep is thought of as our emotional therapist.” Not surprisingly, during COVID-19, people have been reporting increased frequency and intensity of dreams.
Sufficient sleep increases productivity
Not all geniuses survive on four hours of sleep. While pulling an all-nighter may seem necessary and even a badge of honor at times, chronically shorting your sleep is counterproductive. Rather than cutting back on sleep to create more waking hours (to work, study, or balance life), regular, adequate sleep can improve efficiency and productivity—enabling you to get way more done in much less time – and feel much happier, focused, and well-rested while doing so.
Sound sleep improves focus, decision-making, and ability to learn and retain new information
Regular, adequate sleep replenishes, nourishes, and stimulates parts of the brain responsible for acquiring and retaining new information—thus enabling better thinking, learning, and memory. It allows us more focus and clarity—so, there’s good reason for the advice, “just sleep on it.”
AGAIN, not all geniuses survive on four hours of sleep. “I have no desire to get to work at four in the morning,” says legendary investor (and self-investor), Warren Buffett (who also ranks developing your communication skills and becoming a lifelong learner as essentials of success). “I get quite a bit of sleep,” he says. “I like to sleep…So I will usually sleep eight hours a night.”
From a living legend who's built a fortune through decades of solid investments, we'll take it. For more information about how to create a healthy sleep routine, CLICK HERE.
IMPORTANT - Rutgers provides all students with free and confidential counseling services through its Wellness Program (SWP) "which helps students deal effectively with stressors and pressures related to school, as well as personal problems that may affect their well-being, their home lives and/or their academic performance." Additionally, all services are available to family members who reside within students' households.