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Wake up your inner Zen.

Stress is inevitable. The only thing you have some control over is how you respond to it. Researchers are now proving that sleep plays a key role in our ability to handle everyday stress. Here are three reasons why.

Hand holding a mug of steaming coffee in an outside setting.

1. Sleep improves your ability to distinguish between real and perceived threats.

Sleep deprivation limits your ability to distinguish between real and perceived threats. This activates your fight or flight response, which has a real physical impact on your body – your heart beats faster, your muscles tense up, and you feel jumpier. This fight or flight response used to help us defend ourselves from real, physical danger. Now, those little devices we carry around in our back pocket 24/7 can activate that stressful response. Getting better quality sleep sets you up to respond to a stressful situation with more mental clarity and calm.

2. Sleep improves mental clarity.

When you sleep, your brain’s cleaning system – the glymphatic system – is ten times more effective than when you’re awake. The glymphatic system functions like a wave that flows through your brain and removes the toxic debris left behind from the billions of functions your brain cells perform each day. Your brain cells shrink by 60% when you’re asleep, making way for that cleaning to take place (source).

When you’re sleep deprived, the cleaning system doesn’t get the chance to do its job properly. Your brain is left with build-up that affects mental clarity and inhibits your ability to multi-task. When you’re foggy-headed, it’s more difficult to handle the stress that comes your way. Sleep helps lift the fog so you can respond at your best.

3. Sleep can make you a more positive person.

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to increased negativity. In a recent study, well-rested and sleep deprived groups were shown two sets of pictures – one set was positive and one was negative. The next day, the sleep deprived group were less likely to remember the positive photos and had much higher recall of the negative photos than their well-rested counterparts (source, p. 38).  Negativity breeds negativity. When you’re chronically tired, negativity can become a hardwired habit.
Make sleep care a part of your everyday routine to wake up a calmer, clearer, more positive mind.


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