Sleep: The Foundation for Positive Change

Are you trying to eat well and be more active today?

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Photo: Kristopher Roller

When was the last time you included sleep in a goal to improve your mental and physical health? Chances are it was not something that crossed your mind. According to a recent poll, by the National Sleep Foundation, only 10% of people prioritise sleep over other wellbeing initiatives.1

So why is sleep likely missing from your to-do list?

Unfortuantely, not getting enough sleep has become the new normal. After a bad night’s sleep, we persevere through our daily routines and tell ourselves it will be okay because we can catch up tonight or on the weekend. Although there is research to support paying back your sleep debt, there is still the issue of short-term consequences on things like lifestyle decisions, learning and memory.2,3

Better sleep helps you eat well and be more active

Consider the last time you were sleep deprived. Did you make healthy food choices and maintain your exercise routine? Or did you go for a high-calorie meal and cancel the gym session? Although processed foods are more appealing and easy to justify when we’re tired, they can also inhibit our next sleep and delay recovery.

Photo: Ive Erhard

“When you set goals to eat well and be more active make sure you include practices to help you sleep better.”

Better sleep facilitates learning and memory

  • Sleeping well before learning enables us to receive and recall information.
  • Sleeping well after learning enables memory consolidation, a process that strengthens and stabilises memories.

After a good night’s sleep, the mind feels clear and refreshed. It’s easier to concentrate and we’re more prepared to deal with challenges. Conversely, if we toss and turn through the night it can leave us feeling wiped out. Learning becomes a burden and small challenges can seem insurmountable.

Photo: Jeremy Bishop

“Incorporate quality sleep into your daily routine to facilitate performance and creativity.”


1. National Sleep Foundation (2018, March 11). National Sleep Foundation’s 2018 sleep in America® poll shows Americans failing to prioritize sleep [Press release]. Retrieved from

2. Åkerstedt, T., Ghilotti, F., Grotta, A., Zhao, H., Adami, H. O., Trolle‐Lagerros, Y., & Bellocco, R. (2018). Sleep duration and mortality–Does weekend sleep matter? Journal of Sleep Research, e12712. doi:10.1111/jsr.12712

3. Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. (2017). Short-and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep, 9, 151-161. doi:10.2147/NSS.S134864

Also from Positive Legacies:

Grit Defined

Cultivating Compassion for Self and Others

Battling Your Inner Demons

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