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Sleep: Why is it so important for us?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Sleep is our brains' opportunity to relax. Sleep deprivation is a health and safety risk for you and the people around you [1].

What are the different stages of sleeping?

There are 4 stages to the sleep cycle. The first 3 stages are known as non-rapid eye movement sleep and the final stage is referred to as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

The 4 stages include:

Stage 1 non-REM

Stage 2 non-REM

Stage 3 non-REM

Stage 4 REM

During sleep, this process will cycle continuously until waking up. The usual sleep cycle takes on average 90-120 minutes and 75% of the cycle is spent during non-REM sleep.

Why might we sleep poorly?

  • Busy schedules

  • Looking at electronics before bed

  • Medical conditions, such as sleep apnea

  • Stress

Some reasons why sleep is so important for us to function:

  • Help maintain a healthy weight [2, 3]

  • Improved concentration and productivity [4]

  • Maximise athletic performance, recovery and injury prevention [5-7]

  • Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular response [2]

  • Manage blood sugar and metabolic disease [8-10]

  • Support a healthier immune system [11, 12]

  • It interferes with our ability to socialise and interact with people [13]

  • Supports positive mental health [14]

Struggle to sleep at night? Here are some recommended strategies for going to sleep:

  • Develop a sleep schedule

  • Get some daily exercise

  • Avoid midday napping

  • Limit electronics before sleep

  • Avoid night-time nicotine

  • Avoid large meals and alcohol

  • Avoid lying in bed awake – go and do something relaxing

  • Visit a health practitioner if nothing seems to work

Learning how our lifestyle affects our long-term health is critical

Learn more for FREE here...



[1] Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018;43(12):758-63.

[2] Itani O, Jike M, Watanabe N, Kaneita Y. Short sleep duration and health outcomes: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression. Sleep Medicine. 2017;32:246-56.

[3] Brum MCB, Dantas Filho FF, Schnorr CC, Bertoletti OA, Bottega GB, Da Costa Rodrigues T. Night shift work, short sleep and obesity. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 2020;12(1).

[4] Hudson AN, Van Dongen HPA, Honn KA. Sleep deprivation, vigilant attention, and brain function: a review. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020;45(1):21-30.

[5] Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2019;40(08):535-43.

[6] Charest J, Grandner MA. Sleep and Athletic Performance: Impacts on Physical Performance, Mental Performance, Injury Risk and Recovery, and Mental Health. Sleep Med Clin. 2020;15(1):41-57.

[7] Bonnar D, Bartel K, Kakoschke N, Lang C. Sleep Interventions Designed to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review of Current Approaches. Sports Medicine. 2018;48(3):683-703.

[8] Chattu V, Chattu S, Burman D, Spence D, Pandi-Perumal S. The Interlinked Rising Epidemic of Insufficient Sleep and Diabetes Mellitus. Healthcare. 2019;7(1):37.

[9] Adenekan B, Pandey A, McKenzie S, Zizi F, Casimir GJ, Jean-Louis G. Sleep in America: Role of racial/ethnic differences. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2013;17(4):255-62.

[10] Zizi F, Pandey A, Murrray-Bachmann R, Vincent M, McFarlane S, Ogedegbe G, et al. Race/Ethnicity, Sleep Duration, and Diabetes Mellitus: Analysis of the National Health Interview Survey. The American Journal of Medicine. 2012;125(2):162-7.

[11] Irwin MR. Sleep and inflammation: partners in sickness and in health. Nature Reviews Immunology. 2019;19(11):702-15.

[12] Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews. 2019;99(3):1325-80.

[13] Beattie L, Kyle SD, Espie CA, Biello SM. Social interactions, emotion and sleep: A systematic review and research agenda. Sleep Med Rev. 2015;24:83-100.

[14] Li L, Wu C, Gan Y, Qu X, Lu Z. Insomnia and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16(1).


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