Why You Should Prioritize Sleep In 2021 Over Other Habits

From boosted immunity and energy, to enhanced recovery, experts on why you need sleep to thrive

It’s hard to get by, much less thrive, when you’re feeling groggy. That’s why, in 2021, we want to help you embrace a better sleep routine. Enter Katie’s Sleep School with Sleep Number. People often underestimate the importance of getting enough quality sleep, but it’s truly one of the foundational habits that sets you up for success in many other areas of your life. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving into each of the benefits with some of our favorite influencers and experts. Be on the lookout for a new benefit each week, and of course, happy sleeping! 


Energy:

Tiffany Morton, a trainer for the Kansas City Chiefs, weighs in on the correlation between sleep and her player’s energy on the field.

Each day our players are doing the full spectrum of what their bodies can handle. So they need to be able to recover from that so they can go back and do it again the next day. We have a triangle of main priorities, and sleep is in that triangle. A lot of our players have Sleep Number 360® smart bed, along with the SleepIQ app, so they can track in a tangible way how sleep is impacting their energy levels. We first look at the amount of hours they’re getting, and then quality. 

We look at these things, because if you have some sort of sleep deficit, you’re going to come in unable to pay attention. Your memory is not going to function at the high capacity that it should, and your reaction time is going to go down. Once we assess our player’s needs, we help them get on a set sleep schedule — for optimum energy. I, personally, also have the Sleep Number 360® smart bed with the flex fit base. I work all the time, so sleep is one of my favorite things. Since I don’t always get seven to nine hours of sleep, investing in a great bed was super important to me. I need to make sure I get the quality sleep that I want. Each night, after winding down, all I have to do is slip into bed because I’ve already made adjustments so that it fits my sleep needs perfectly. It’s been really cool to see how consistent my Sleep IQ number has become since I first started using it —  I don’t toss and turn anymore.

Performance: 

Olympic medalist-winning fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad explains why getting quality sleep is absolutely vital for performing well. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that there are key parts to my training as a professional athlete that have helped lead to improved performance — like ample hydration, healthy diet, quality sleep, as well as endurance and plyometric training. Having a set routine helps me track my training and performance from competition to competition. It is important for me to make sure I’m hitting all of those components each week, so that I can improve. Sticking with a set schedule helps me monitor my performance. 

I have found that quality sleep has been the single most important recovery tool that I have access to! When we consider the amount of energy it takes to fuel our bodies to perform at their best, and the load of demand we place on our muscles with increased physical activity, we must remember to also give our bodies ample time to recover and repair themselves while we sleep. When I am able to get good rest, I find that I perform better. I’m able to complete my workouts with increased intensity and more mental clarity. Plus, I feel so much better! 


My Sleep Number 360® smart bed has been such a game-changer in ensuring I get enough sleep every night. I love that I am able to customize its firmness, as well as track my sleep through the bed’s SleepIQ® technology. It has helped me better understand my sleep patterns and the way my heart rate moves each night. No matter your level of sport, good quality sleep is critical in boosting both your athletic performance and overall health. 

Recovery:

Acclaimed wellness coach and doula Latham Thomas describes why sleep is so important to recovery during these difficult times — especially for caregivers. 

Caregiving is often undervalued in American society. Beyond frontline workers, who are caring for those who are sick right now, people tend to forget about mothers, many of whom are taking the brunt of caring for their families right now — without getting paid. 

The functionality of a community, society and a nation are based on the quality of care individuals receive. If you look at other countries many have social support in place for caregivers, which make for a different quality of life. However, many Americans make sacrifices at the expense of their health. We need to reframe how we look at the support our caregivers deserve.

One of the most powerful things about the body is that it speaks to us in very clear certain terms about what it needs. Often, when we’re staying up too late or working too hard, we get very clear signals: foggy thinking, irritability, exhaustion, mood swings or anxiety. The most important thing is to take a daily audit. Check in with yourself daily about what your needs are, because what tends to happen is we get really good at ignoring our bodies — ignoring that they need rest. Recovery and rest are pathways to empowerment. Health is really wealth. Think about the time we’re living in; We’ve been living in a pandemic, and right now, it’s flu season.

Sleep is one of the number one ways you can recover, and it’s often underrated. You hear people say, “I’ll sleep when I die,” or “I don’t have time to sleep, I have so much to do.” But, you can do so much more when you’ve rested; It cleanses your brain, allows your physical body to rest, and gives time for cellular recovery. For example, many people don’t realize you reap many of the actual benefits of your workout while you’re asleep. Sleep is also tied to productivity, hormonal function, digestion and more. 

To recover from my own work, I love my Sleep Number bed. With my previous bed, I used to wake up with backaches all the time. I was always in pain. With my new Sleep Number bed, I’ve noticed an immediate difference. My back feels so much better because I can adjust it so that it’s in the best position for me. 

My bed also has a DualTemp layer, so that I can adjust its temperature. I always have it up to the highest setting for heat, because I get really cold at night living in New York. I have to get up in the middle of the night sometimes to go deliver babies. And so I need to come back to a bed that’s warm and cozy, where I can actually get a good night’s rest. I’ve noticed that when I wake up, it’s so comfortable that I don’t want to get out! 

Immunity: 

John and I both know there’s nothing better than a quality night’s sleep, which is why we partnered with Sleep Number to talk about how sleep can help boost your immune system.

As we wait for the Covid-19 vaccine to arrive so all of our lives can get back to the new normal, the last thing any of us want is to get sick. With hospitals and emergency rooms still strained, the best thing any of us can do to help frontline workers is to keep ourselves safe and healthy. That’s why right now in particular, it’s so important that we’re all doing everything we can to boost our immune systems! 

In addition to eating immune-boosting foods (try to focus on foods like citrus fruits, leafy greens, and greek yogurt) and making sure to get enough exercise (I try to take a nice long walk every day!) one of the best ways to help stave off illness is to get plenty of quality sleep. Quality sleep is a natural immune booster that also helps our focus, mood, and ability to manage stress. Science shows us that poor sleep can affect our immune system, leaving us susceptible to colds and other illnesses. People who don’t get enough quality sleep are not only more likely to get sick after being exposed to common viruses, but they’re also more likely to stay sick for longer. And especially as the weather gets colder, that’s the last thing any of us want! 

If you’re not sleeping your best right now, don’t stress.  Averaging even 15 minutes more quality sleep per night is enough to boost immunity. This is one of the reasons Molner and I like our Sleep Number bed. Sleep Number® bed owners get almost 100 hours more proven quality sleep per year!* If you sleep in bed with a partner and you prefer different levels of softness or firmness, don’t worry- Sleep Number has you covered. In case you were wondering, my Sleep Number setting is 40, whereas Molner’s is a 55. The Sleep Number bed even senses your movements and responds automatically to make sure you stay asleep. It’s great for us, because if I have to stay up late preparing for an interview or Molner is up before dawn to get in an early round of golf, we don’t wake each other up. And knock on wood… but so far, we’re off to a happy, healthy 2021.

*Based on internal analysis of sleep sessions assessing sleepers who use multiple features of Sleep Number products. Claim based on sleepers achieving over 15 more minutes of restful sleep per sleep session.