The Importance of Sleep (And How to Get More of It)

Alright, so as most of you are probably aware, we need sleep. Badly. Without sleep, our bodies don’t have the defenses and functions that we need throughout the day. Sleep deprivation impairs our ability to pay attention, retain information, and concentrate, which is why sleep is especially crucial for those of you in high school and college. So, to put things in perspective, let’s start with some facts about sleep deprivation.

  • Lack of sleep kicks up levels of anxiety and depression, and affects the way we process emotions
  • It disrupts our body’s natural clock (officially called Circadian Rhythm),
  • 60 million Americans (and counting) have some type of chronic sleep disorder
  • Only sleeping 5-6 hours a night leads to an increased risk of higher blood pressure
  • 87% of high school students get less than the recommended amount of sleep, and ther amount they get is decreasing
  • College students normally get between 6-6.5 hours of sleep a night, an hour and a half below the recommended amount of sleep


  • Higher blood pressure
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • Unhealthy cravings (sleep maintains the hormones that make you feel hungry, ghrelin, or full, leptin).
  • Increased risk of blood pressure
  • Higher injury risk
  • Getting sick (our immune systems don’t run properly when we are sleep deprived)
  • Moodiness
  • Impaired problem solving, reasoning, and alertness
  • Decreased academic performance
  • Increased car accidents because of drowsiness
  • Increased weight gain
  • Death

That’s right. A lack of sleep can ultimately lead to death.

So, what can we do about it? Here are some tips for sleeping well.

  • Avoid caffeine 3-4 hours before you go to sleep, and avoid eating right before bed.
  • Limit use of electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
  • Keep a constant sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Manage and time your naps well. They actually make falling asleep at night harder, leading to even worse sleep deprivation!
  • Avoid watching TV right before bed.
  • Keep the room totally dark, if you can.
  • Get regular exercise. People who exercise regularly feel less sleepy during the day and sleep much better at night.
  • If you’re having trouble sleeping, take deep, slow breaths.
  • Read a book, or listen to an audiobook.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Keep your room cool, if you can.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable.

Thanks for reading! And may all of your sleeps be peaceful.

Have a lovely day,


Stanford Medicine


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