Note: All of what I’m about to share with you was deeply studied and scientifically proved by Mathew Walker in the book he wrote: Why We Sleep. You can see it in my list of recommended books here.

why we sleep - Matthew Walker

If you want to live a long healthy life, you must know the importance that sleep can have on your mind and health.

Are you one of those persons who claim that 6 hours of sleep per night is enough? Have you considered that perhaps you have forgotten how good it feels when you have more than 8 hours of sleep?

First, a Brief Explanation of How Sleep is Composed

Sleep is divided in two phases: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-rapid Eye Movement).

The name of each of these phases have a reason itself as your eyes are moving in the first phase and not moving in the second one.

When you are dreaming you are in the REM phase and your body is immobile. It is in this phase that you consolidate what you’ve learned in the last day(s). The biggest slice of REM sleep is in the last part of the cycle (the last 2 hours).

Sleep’s REM Phase Helps You Learning New Things

You may think that by sleeping 6 hours you feel “okay” because you’ve slept (supposedly) 75% of a total of recommended 8 hours. It happens that in reality you’re sleeping much less than that, because the last 2 hours are the ones that count the most when it comes to the REM phase.

How many times have you forgotten what you’ve learned after an all-nighter studying for that exam? I would say 99% of the times. You may have some memory for the exam, but in the long term, you won’t remember it.

sleep phases from why we sleep book

Sleep’s NREM Phase Improves Your Long-Term Memory

NREM also known as deep sleeping is where it is selected memories that you’ve stored in the REM sleep. These memories are then kept in your longer memory. The more you sleep, the better the selection of the memories to be stored in your brain.

Sleep Makes You Less Hungry

There are several studies that prove that if you are with a lack of sleeping hours the urge to eat will increase. So if you’re thinking about starting that diet or just improving your lifestyle, keep in mind that this is a simple free action you can choose to follow.

Sleep Gives You a Longer Life

Together with good eating habits and exercise, sleep is the third pillar of this important triad. When you for example sleep only 6 hours per week and then think you can recover it during weekend, you are mistaken. The time while you are awake is always producing a chemical substance which does not stop increasing. This substance is only reduced when you sleep. If you are always sleeping less than the recommended amount of hours, then you’re leaving this substance at an imbalanced level.

Sleep Strengthens Your Memory

As I’ve explain in the first point of this post, the more you sleep, the bigger the chances of storing important things you’ve learned in your long-term memory. If you choose to constantly ignore the power of sleep, then you’re not having the same benefits which you could have if you slept at least 8 hours per night.

One study with the participation of academics was realised and was divided in three groups. The first group slept 8 hours for 3 days; The second group slept 8 hours in the first day and 6 hours in the other two; And the third group slept 4 hours in all the three days.

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On the fourth day all of these persons had a university exam and by now you can guess that the first group got a better average of results than the two other groups. The second group got better results than the third.

These is one of the study cases that show that you shouldn’t miss at all the sleeping full cycle if you want to have good results in any aspect of life.

Sleep Improves Your Immune System

The less you sleep the weaker your immune system will be. The weaker your immune system is the more likely you are of becoming sick.

Several studies on rats were made in which these animals were prevented from having enough hours of sleep. They were only given 6, 4 or less hours of sleep. After some time, a significant percentage of the rats had cancer and other diseases.


Sleeping is very important and shouldn’t be considered “for the weak” as many people say. The long term results can really benefit your health and mind.

Take in mind that coffee, alcohol or sleeping pills can affect the quality of your sleep and therefore, the 8 hours wouldn’t have the same effect on your body.

With a good mind come good decisions. These can mean a substantial growth on your portfolio.

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