I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you that getting a good night’s sleep makes you feel better the next day… and yet, in my travels, pre and post presentations, I often hear that people are struggling to do that one relatively simple thing to make them feel better.
But it goes further than that.
What we know from neuroscience studies is a good night’s sleep can impact our physical, emotional and intellectual capacities. This is part of the broaden and build theory of positive psychology introduced by Barbara Fredrickson.
OK… you’re probably thinking ‘so what’s new in that?’ And the answer is, a fair bit actually.
The key to all of this is a good night’s sleep will have a direct impact on how positive or negative you are about life… yes… really.
Let me point out what I mean by being more positive… (the psychologists call it a positive affect style). This includes (and is not restricted to) obviously feeling more positive than negative about life on a daily basis; being more optimistic than pessimistic; being more goal oriented than wandering aimlessly; being more curious rather than just accepting things as they are.
The roll-on effect of being more positive, is the way it impacts the chemical releases in our brain, which impacts our vital organs… not just our emotions. The roll-on effect also opens our mind up to new information, and to being more prepared and able to explore and create.
So let me ask you… are you getting enough sleep?
Here’s another paradox, the more positive and happy you are with your personal and work life… the more quality sleep time you’ll typically experience. And the more quality sleep time you experience, the more positive and happy you typically become with your personal and work life.
I’ve purposefully avoided discussing the neuropsychological research in detail – once you start discussing neurons, synapse, neurotransmitters, prefrontal cortex, amygdala and interconnecting pathways it can all get too scientific and academic.
However, practically speaking, the value of getting better quality, uninterrupted sleep (depending on the research it’s between 7 and 8 hours for most adults) is significant to your ability to live a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life.
Just one (of many) elements that impact our potential for a good night’s sleep is our ability to turn off the noise in our minds… what’s worrying us… what’s exciting us. The more active the thoughts, the more difficult it is to go to sleep.
Again, this is where the simple things can make a difference – approaching life with gratitude, being clear on our intentions for ourselves and for others, accepting that which is out of our control and setting goals to change what is within our control.