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why you should go to sleep at a regular bedtime - image of woman yawning

15 Reasons You Should Go to Bed on Time, According to Science

Welcome back to our regular series with certified sleep educator Terry Cralle, MS, RN. In this post, Cralle explains why it’s important to establish a regular bedtime—and stick to it every night.

If you’re a victim of bedtime procrastination, you’re not alone. We have too many temptations, whether it’s late-night bargain hunting on the internet or getting sucked into watching cute cat videos on Facebook. However, going to sleep at a reasonable time can have immediate health benefits.

15 reasons to go to sleep on time tonight

In honor of World Sleep Day on March 15, here are my top 15 reasons why you should make the effort to make sleep a priority.

  1. You perform better. Without sufficient sleep, you perform similarly to a person who has consumed one too many alcoholic beverages. According to a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Health, being awake for 16 hours straight decreases your performance as much as if you had a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (the legal limit in most states is .08%).
  2. You like your job more. Insomnia was associated with increased feelings of hostility and fatigue and was also negatively related to job satisfaction in a 2006 study.
  3. You feel happier. In a 2018 study, sleep deprivation left study subjects feeling angrier than well-rested ones.
  4. You’re less likely to be in a car crash. Insufficient sleep is strongly associated with motor vehicle crashes—regardless of self-reported sleepiness.
  5. You’re more productive. In a large study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, productivity was highest among employees who reported eight hours of sleep, while daytime fatigue was linked to more absence and working while sick.
  6. You make better decisions. Judgment and decision-making are negatively impacted by sleep deprivation.
  7. You’re more resilient. Resilience gives us the ability to deal with stress and adversity and helps prevent burnout. Sleep is a natural, biological source of resilience.
  8. You make healthier food choices. Sleep deprived people often have a significant increase in the desire for high-calorie foods, according to a study published in Nature Communications. (Here’s how sugar affects your sleep.)
  9. Your memory is stronger. In fact, getting seven hours of sleep per night may help maintain memory later in life.
  10. You’re more optimistic. In a 2012 study, short sleep duration (less than six hours) was related to lower optimism and self-esteem when compared to sleeping seven to eight hours.
  11. You behave more ethically. In research from 2015, a lack of sleep was demonstrated to lead to low moral awareness, affecting how people make moral decisions.
  12. Your experience less anxiety. Sleep deprivation is linked to mood disturbances, such as anger, depression, aggression, impulsivity, and anxiety.
  13. You’re more creative. In research published in 2009, REM sleep improved creative problem-solving.
  14. You make fewer errors. In a study published in 2004, the rates of serious medical errors in two intensive care units were lowered by eliminating extended work shifts and reducing the number of hours interns worked each week.
  15. You feel less lonely. A recent study published in Nature Communications has demonstrated that feelings of loneliness and social isolation can be triggered by a lack of quality sleep.

The bottom line: If you’ve been skimping on sleep, try to buck the trend and see how you feel. You may be pleasantly surprised by the resulting spring in your step and the markedly improved way you feel and function when you get enough rest. If you experience the difference, send me an email and let me know; I’d love to hear about it.

More from Terry Cralle:

Terry Cralle, MS, RN, is a certified clinical sleep educator and Saatva's sleep consultant. She is the author of Snoozby and the Great Big Bedtime Battle, the first nonfiction book directly messaging the benefits of sufficient sleep to young children, and Sleeping Your Way to the Top, the ultimate guide to success through better sleep. A nationally recognized sleep health and wellness advocate, her work in the field of sleep medicine has ranged from patient care to clinical research and continuing education for nurses.