We all know that sleep is important for our health, and i’m pretty sure as adults we all remember fondly the naps we were once forced to have. Oh what I would give for mandatory siestas these days! If we know sleep is important for us, and if most of us like to sleep why does it seem to always get pushed to the back burner? I think it comes down to not enough hours in the day. While i may not be able to rewind time or add a few hours to each day I can explain why it’s so important for us to get enough sleep and maybe that may shift our priorities to include taking care of ourselves which in part means getting enough sleep. First let’s start off with the scary stuff! Losing your mind, well at least your memory. Those who don’t get enough sleep have issues with their procedural and declarative memory. Declarative memory is our memory of facts and things we know, like our kids names, or what your favorite wine is. Our procedural memory is how we remember to do things, like driving a car or how to do the warrior 2 pose. These both are affected by not only a lack of sleep in general but specifically REM sleep where all our dreams happen as well asl as Slow Wave Sleep which is the rest and restorative sleep. So if we want to remember how to pour that cup of coffee each morning we need to be getting in our zzz’s. Sleep affects our mind and body, some mental health issues can be exaggerated or caused by a lack of sleep, Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Disorder are all linked to a lack of sleep. In Longitudinal studies done it has shown that those who report a history of insomnia have a greater chance of developing and worsening depression, anxiety and even ADHD and bipolar disorder. It is also possible that the mental illness can result in insomnia. So if you are suffering from mental illness reach out and get help! Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be extremely helpful in dealing with mental illness and insomnia. Our ability to learn is also affected by the amount of sleep we get. It is hard for us to retain information if we can not get to the REM and SWM cycles of sleep, this is where we are filing away all the knowledge we obtained that day and if we skip that we skip the processing that helps us retain those memories and facts. Then there is also the energy you need to be able to pay attention and be alert and without sleep over periods of time your ability to follow whats going on decreases significantly. If you’re trying to lose weight maybe try gaining some more hours in bed. Those who don’t get enough sleep are 55% more likely to be obese and for children it was 89%. Things like diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as Immune function are all associated with are sleep. If we aren’t getting enough sleep our bodies don’t have the resources they need to heal and maintain us. Those of us who sleep less than 7 hrs a night are 3 times more likely to develop a cold. If you’re having trouble sleeping try mediation before bed, or aromatherapy using lavender to calm and relax and a big one is putting the screens away and 1hr before bed that light and especially the blue light from our phones messes with our circadian rhythm telling our brain it’s still time to be awake when we actually needed to be asleep an hour ago! Good luck and sweet dreams!