Healthy and sufficient sleep is the basis for optimal functioning of our body and mind. Experts therefore recommend that you should make sure you get 7-9 hours per night and best keep a regular sleep-wake pattern. That is, you should have the same ‘sleep window’ every day. But why is sleep so essential? It can be seen as a sort of ‘housekeeping process’, during which we regenerate and restore an equilibrium thereby ensuring optimal functioning. During sleep, waste products that accumulate during the day and make us tired are cleared from the brain. It is also a state during which tissue is repaired which is essential for a well-functioning immune system. Furthermore, sleep helps us learn, whether that is a new movement, vocabulary, or navigating through a virtual world. 

Even only a mild sleep deficit such as 5 hours of sleep negatively affects cognitive functioning the next day. For example, our ability to flexibly react to changing situations is impaired. And, following 24 hours without sleep, our reaction times are as bad as with 1% alcohol. Besides this, sleep is also intimately linked to mood: we become thin-skinned, grumpy, more anxious, and tend to avoid social interaction. Last, healthy and sufficient sleep is also important for our body’s energy balance and metabolism. People who sleep too little or at the wrong time for example have a higher risk of obesity or type 2 diabetes. 

It is easy to lose what we call ‘good sleeping habits’, but becoming aware of these allows us to change them. Though not everything works for everyone, above are 5 tips we would like to invite you to try.