Dr. Bill Hoekstra
Five Excellent Benefits of Good Sleep
Updated: May 4, 2020
Sleep is a great example of a complex, complicated, automatic body process that we all take for granted... unless our sleep goes off the rails. From warding off ADHD-like behaviors in children and adolescents to preventing depression, the importance of good sleep sleep for our mental health is clear. While it is true science is still learning about the elements of sleep, we know that good sleep is important for medical, behavi
oral, mental health. It is as important as good nutrition.
1. Prevents Depression
Several studies find that short sleep duration (generally defined as less than 6 hours per night) is strongly associated with higher rates of depression. Ironically, excessive sleep typically defined as more than 9 hours per night, is also associated with depression.
2. Curbs ADHD Behaviors
It is really important for children to get ample sleep for their age. What happens when they are not getting enough rest? While adults tend to be sleepy and low energy, children tend to be behaviorally agitated, hyperactive, and unfocused. Getting enough sleep can help kids curb those behaviors, like not following through with instructions or finishing schoolwork. Part of my practice involves assessment for ADHD. It is not unusual for me to see children with symptoms of ADHD who are also sleep deprived. A number of these children struggle with sleep as a primary cause of their symptoms.
3. Improves Memory Researchers are making great strides in understanding the large role sleep plays in our memory. A period of sleep can help people improve [one's] performance of 'memory tasks. Research shows that when you're asleep, it seems as though you are shifting memory to more efficient storage regions within the brain. As a result, we are able to access this information more quickly and accurately and with less stress and anxiety while awake.
4. Improves Cognitive Performance
A study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, outlined just how much sleep deprivation can affect your ability to function. They looked at people whose jobs required them to miss sleep regularly and found, "Performance of residents in routine practice and repetitive tasks requiring vigilance becomes more error-prone when wakefulness is prolonged." This speaks greatly to not just the sleep deprived child and adult, but to the people working rotating shift work and those with sleep apnea that is untreated.
5. Boosts Creativity And Problem-Solving
Research has suggested that REM-sleep dreaming is associated with creative processes and abstract reasoning. It follows that the more sleep you get, the better you'll be at processing things that are more creative or abstract, like dreams, and tackle problems from different angles.