Why Does Sleep Matter?

Work Worth Doing Well - quote

A recent study in the United States found out that one in five youngsters ages 12-15 years old lose sleep over social media. They even wake up in the night to send or check messages on social media! As expected, they are three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school. One-fifth of the 900 respondents reported “almost always” waking up to log on, with girls much more likely to access their social media accounts during the night than boys.1

In my seminar talks in schools, I always advise parents to ensure that their children are getting enough sleep. Children one to three years old need 12 to 14 hours of sleep. Toddlers in preschool, three to six years old need 10 to 12 hours of sleep. Children seven to 12 years old who are in elementary school (grades 1-8) need 10 to 11 hours of sleep, while those in high school or grades 9-12 need eight to nine hours of sleep. Sleep consolidates what the children learn during the day.

If you think adults do not need that much sleep, you’re wrong. Adults must maintain seven to eight hours of sleep to function well the next day. Sleep is not idle time. Sleep is not being lazy. Sleep is an active state when the brain processes information acquired during the previous day to prepare itself for the demands of the next day.

Lack of sleep has adverse consequences. It hurts your attention; it affects your working memory and executive function. Executive function is the ability to plan, organize, and complete your tasks. Sleep deprivation also affects your mood. It also diminishes your quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and motor dexterity.

Aside from cognitive decline, lack of sleep also affects your health. Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. The immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. People get sick more frequently without sufficient sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health.2

Not sounding an alarm, there is another more compelling reason to make up your mind to sleep better. A study suggests that one night of partial sleep deprivation promotes biological aging in older adults.3 Another study shows that there is truth to beauty sleep. The faces of sleep-deprived individuals were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, and darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles or fine lines, and more droopy corners of the mouth. Moreover, when sleep-deprived, they look sadder.4 So instead of buying all those expensive cosmetics, it’s much cheaper to get a good night’s sleep.

How Does Sleep Help in Memory and Problem-Solving?

People complain a lot about poor memory; but do you know how your sleep helps your memory? Long-term memory is formed during sleep through a process that strengthens and reorganizes memory traces by integrating them onto established knowledge networks.5

During sleep, human brains, although decoupled from sensory input, remain highly active. There are alternating periods of active and silent states of cortical neurons during deep sleep. Traces of episodic memory acquired during wakefulness and initially stored in the hippocampus are progressively transferred to the cortex as long-term memory during sleep.6

Sleep does not only store previously acquired memories but also renews the capacity for learning. A good night’s sleep helps you to acquire new information that will have a higher impact on overall productivity.7 Mere presence or longer hours at the office will not compensate for lack of sleep. A good solution to a complex problem needs a good night’s sleep; hence, the advice: sleep on it.

Many social and psychological factors in your workplace could be culprits to your sleeping problems. In a two-year study in Norway, researchers found that too much work and too many demands, lack of control in decision-making, role conflict, and lack of support from a superior in the workplace were the most consistent predictors of sleep problems, particularly difficulty initiating sleep or disturbed sleep.8 Therefore, what is causing your tossing and turning at night might be due to problems at work.

Points to ponder:

How many hours do you sleep every night on average? Do you take three meals regularly? Is exercise part of your everyday life? Are you reflective of your life by reviewing your day? What do we gain if we work so hard and lose our health?

Share us your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the BookWork Worth Doing Well - Grace Koo

People running after jeepneys. Long lines at the MRT. Traffic. Monday back-to-work blues. TGIF!

To many of us, work has come to be associated with toll, stress, boredom, and survival. But what about accomplishment, fulfillment, contribution and joy? If the average person spends 40 years at work from graduation to retirement, then work has to be more than just drudgery.

Dr. Grace Shangkuan Koo addresses this dilemma for us in Work Worth Doing Well, where she seeks insight from work realities and issues like boredom and motivation, stress and the concept “margin,” “boundaries,” “flow,” and job satisfaction. She looks to Scripture for perspective and understanding as well as at inspiring examples in history and at present of people who not only are motivated in their work but are passionate in what they do. Dr. Koo reflects on these concepts in her own life as well and challenges us to think through ours.

Whether you are a fresh graduate seeking direction, or a midlifer needing refreshment in your career, an employee craving for meaning in your job, or an employer looking to motivate your people – this book is for you. May it inspire you to give your best work yet!

Available soon at the 38th Manila International Book Fair on September 13-17, 2017!

About the Author

Grace-KooGrace Shangkuan Koo, PhD, is a professor  of educational psychology at the University of the Philippines where she has been teaching for more than 20 years. She is frequently invited to speak in schools, universities, conferences, church, retreats, and corporate events.

She is married to Caleb and they are parents of Crystal Gail and Christian Gregory – both residing and working in Hong Kong.


1 Sally Power, Chris Taylor, Kim Horton, ”Sleepless in school? The social dimensions of young people’s bedtime rest and routines,” Journal of Youth Studies, 1 (2017).

2 S.A Gharib, et al., “Transcriptional Signatures of Sleep Duration Discordance in Monozygotic Twins,” Sleep (January 2017).

3 American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Partial sleep deprivation linked to biological aging in older adults,” Science Daily, retrieved April 9, 2017 from ww.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150610131728.htm

4 American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2013, August 30). Study reveals the face of sleep deprivation. Science Daily, retrieved April 9, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830161323.htm

5 Gordon Feld and Susanne Diekelmann, “Sleep smart – optimizing sleep for declarative learning and memory,” Frontiers in Psychology, 12 May 2015 https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00622

6 Y. Wei, G.P. Krishnan, M. Bazhenov, “Synaptic mechanisms of memory consolidation during sleep slow oscillations,” Journal of Neuroscience 36, no. 15 (2016), 4231

7 Feld and Diekelmann.

8 Larissa K. Barber, Shannon G. Taylor, James P. Burton, Sarah F. Bailey, ”A self-regulatory perspective of work-to-home undermining spillover/crossover: Examining the roles of sleep and exercise,” Journal of Applied Psychology, (2017). Doi: 10.1037/apl0000196


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