In the midst of a jam-packed life it's super easy to sacrifice sleep. When your toddler is ill, your favorite Netflix show is at an exciting turning point, or your boss is emailing your urgently late at night, an hour or two of shut eye seems far less urgent by comparison. Soon all those short nights and early wake-ups add up and you find yourself chronically sleep deprived.
If this sounds like you, a new study dramatically underlines what health professionals have been telling us for years -- sleep is way more valuable than you think.
How valuable exactly?
In fact, adequate rest will make you feel as good over the long-term as winning a $250,000 lottery jackpot, a massive new British study has concluded.
Putting a price tag on feeling well rested
If that sounds a little outlandish to you, be aware this isn't quack science. The study, conducted by University of Warwick researchers, followed more than 30,000 British adults for four years, tracking the amount of shut eye they got as well as their mental and physical health.
Here's the startling takeaway, according to Amanda MacMillan of Health.com: those who improved their sleep over the course of the study saw mental health boosts "comparable to those seen in British lottery winners two years after hitting a medium-size jackpot worth about $250,000." Though MacMillan clarifies that "we're talking about a long-term mood boost--not the immediate euphoria of striking it rich."
That finding might surprise perpetually sleepy professionals, but it comes as less of a surprise to doctors in the field, who have been basically jumping and up and downing begging people to get more sleep for years. And not just because you'll be more alert for that boring 3pm meeting.
"When we sleep well, we feel better--but there may also be more than that," Cathy Goldstein, a professor of neurology in the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center explained to MacMillan. "If you're irritable and having difficulty with interpersonal relationships, that could affect your well being. We also see changes in inflammatory markers with poor sleep, so people might actually physically feel worse when they're not sleeping well."
That's not even mentioning the previous studies that show sleep deprivation makes you as dumb as being drunk (and also totally paranoid).
Practical tips to get more sleep
So how do you get more sleep? You can check out MacMillan's article for tips from Dr. Goldstein, but the basic idea is this: don't just focus on the quantity of time you spend in bed (though that should be a reasonable number of hours, of course). Instead, make sure you're getting the most rest possible out of your nights by focusing on the quality of your sleep as well.
What would you pay to wake up feeling fully rested and refreshed every morning?