Why it matters: Neuroscientist Matthew P. Walker, PhD, author of Why We Sleep, calls shut-eye you’re “superpower,” and he’s not kidding around. We know from research that slumber and wellbeing are inextricably linked. In one survey of studies, Walker and a coauthor found that after a night of sleep deprivation, brain scans showed that the participants’ amygdalae (where emotions are processed) were 60 percent more reactive to emotionally negative stimuli than after a normal night’s sleep. Well-rested brains, meanwhile, keep the amygdalae in check, so we react more rationally and process are feelings more effectively.
How to get it: To assess whether you’re rested enough, ask yourself two questions: After waking in the morning, could I fall back asleep at 10 or 11 a.m.? And, can I function optimally without caffeine before noon? If the first answer is yes and the second no, you are likely suffering from sleep deprivation, according to Walker.
And if you’re struggling to get the recommended seven to nine hours of z’s a night, he suggests going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends). While it’s tempting to try to catch up on rest when you can, an inconsistent sleep-wake schedule throws your circadian rhythm out of whack and may leave you even more depleted in the end. Also, no caffeine after lunch–sorry.