Believe it or not, having a consistent sleeping pattern is a very important self-care act. Everyone knows what it feels like to be over-tired; it doesn't just affect energy levels but as a result, mood as well. A lack of sleep can also create stress which prevents the peace of mind, needed to get to sleep. This is something I’m sure we can all relate to and recognise as important, but why does it have such a monumental influence on our day-to-day mood and mental wellbeing?
One reason is that REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, typically known as dreaming) allows us to selectively forget and process events that have happened in our past. As a result, our brains are more suited to processing less significant events in our day-to-day life. The amygdala specifically helps to process negative emotions and experiences, especially during this phase of sleep, so that our waking brain has the capacity to take on new experiences in a productive and healthy way. So when we lose sleep, this is why sometimes we struggle with everyday occurrences that would usually be insignificant.
In sleep, our rational reasoning brain activity decreases and our emotional brain activity increases. This means that our dreams are vivid and random, creating unrealistic possibilities and circumstances so that our brains can test and experiment with ideas in a world without logic. This further helps to process our waking thoughts and memories. Did you know…? Only people you have seen or know in real life will appear in your dreams.
Although sleep is important, to stress over it is a horrible experience and is like battling your own mind. The more you think of the sleep you are losing, the more your brain wakes up and becomes further away from it. A lack of sleep can cause a cycle of tiredness, difficulty getting through the day, stress, and again lack of sleep. I can clearly remember feeling this way especially on the night before something I think is important (a swimming competition, important tests, etc), it is not only frustrating but entrapping at the same time; the more you try, the more difficult it is to get to sleep. As a result, sometimes it had a negative impact on my day.
So remember sleep is important and your body needs it but don’t stress, a day without the 8 hours is fine. Set a consistent sleeping pattern and try to stick to it the best you can; the benefits are countless