For many years scientists and philosophers have pondered why we need sleep besides to not be sleepy. Of course we all intuitively know how important sleep is to our bodies, relationships, and walk with God. But as neuroscientists are learning more about the brain, they are discovering many positive brain benefits from sleep. This list below includes some of those benefits.
- Sleep improves mood. And people catch a leader’s mood. It’s called emotional contagion. If we regularly don’t get enough sleep, it can make us grumpy and negative. If we carry a bad mood to church, it rubs off on others. The reverse holds true as well. A good mood rubs off on others.
- Sleep enhances memory. When we sleep our brain turns short term memory into long-term memory. It’s called memory consolidation. Without adequate sleep, consolidation suffers.
- Sleep improves decision making. When we don’t get adequate sleep we can become more rigid in our thinking and less adaptable. Rigid thinking impairs good decision making.
- Sleep improves creativity. Studies have shown that sleep facilitates insight because the brain is still active while we sleep. Among other things, it uncovers novel connections between seemingly disparate ideas. The old adage “sleep on it” really is true.
- Sleep improves our ability to pay attention. Great leaders listen well to others and have the ability to maintain attention to important tasks. Lack of sleep degrades our brain’s ability to pay attention.
- Sleep clears out the brain’s ‘trash’ to make it more effective. Neuroscientists have discovered that during waking hours toxins collect in our brains while sleep literally cleans them out.
If you regularly don’t get enough sleep, your leadership may be suffering. The writer of Ecclesiates writes, The sleep of a laborer is sweet. (Ecc 5.12, NIV)