What’s the Real Relationship Between Sleep and Energy?

There’s nothing as refreshing as waking up after truly restful sleep... you spring out of bed, smile as you stretch and rise fully relaxed and ready to take on the day. 

After a sleepless night, do you feel confused, forgetful, just not with it? It might make sense if you’ve been tossing and turning all night, but what about those times you’ve been jolted awake by your alarm and you clumsily tumble out of bed thinking, I got enough sleep but am still tired! Am I just crazy?

Turns out it’s not just in your imagination. If you don’t get enough sleep or it’s not good quality, you’re likely to feel the energy deficit in a few ways.

Immediately (as in, the very next day), lack of sleep has been shown to result in decreased concentration, low-level exhaustion, slower reaction time and less decisive control of motor actions. With immediate side effects like these, it’s easy to see how everyday tasks like driving a vehicle or using tools can start to feel like major hazards when you don’t get enough sleep over time.

So, you probably fall into one of these camps: wanting to know how to get LESS sleep and MORE energy or how to get BETTER sleep and MORE energy. So which is the better tactic—more hours of “okay” sleep or fewer hours of great sleep? While more sleep time is ideal, what makes it re-energizing is how restful sleep is.

“Normal” sleep is restorative. Ideally, you should fall asleep quickly before experiencing four stages of the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phase, from light to deep slumber. This is followed by the REM (rapid eye movement) phase, during which the eyes and brain are active in great contrast to the still body. On average, people move between the NREM and REM phases around five times. Seven to nine hours is adequate for most people to complete the cycle enough times to feel rejuvenated upon waking.

If you’re not falling asleep within 20 minutes, aren’t dreaming or wake up tired despite adequate hours of sleep, you might not be experiencing restful sleep.