We can’t live without it, and we spend nearly a third of our entire lives doing it—yet few of us pay attention to the phenomenon of sleep or recognize its profound effect on our personal health and wellbeing. Our fast-paced, “24/7” culture prioritizes being awake and productive, pushing us to accomplish as much as we can. When things get busy and we need to make cutbacks in our lives, sleep is often the first thing to go. Perhaps we even think of ourselves as “lazy” for feeling tired or needing to get a full night’s rest.
But research is showing more and more that healthy sleep is a vital component of a flourishing life. In fact, sleep is as essential as food, and creating healthy sleeping patterns is just as important as following a nutritious, vitamin-rich diet. Sleep deprivation, like starvation, can have damaging consequences to health and wellbeing.
On a personal level, inadequate sleep can cause health problems, interfere with relationships, and affect mood. On a larger scale, poor sleep is a public health risk, increasing accident rates and decreasing productivity, which has an enormous financial impact on governments, organizations, and healthcare systems.
Learning to prioritize sleep in your life, create healthy sleeping patterns, and effectively manage sleep-related disorders can have a powerful effect on your overall wellbeing as well as the community, society, and culture within which you live and work.