The Importance of Sleep in Survival Situations

Man fatigued by sleep deprivation

Our sleep is a vital component to our everyday health and well-being, but in a survival situation, it’s one of the last things you will probably be thinking about.

You may not think you need to prioritize your sleep in a dire situation, but there are countless reasons why you should. Your sleep affects every part of your life, and without it, you’ll experience the nasty effects of sleep deprivation. In this guide, we’ll explain why you should care about your sleep and how it will benefit you to be prepared to maintain your sleep in survival situations.

Sleep & Your Mental Health

While you’re sleeping your brain is still busy working. Particularly, your sleep is the time in which your brain processes and stores new memories. This is why sleep is so important for your learning and development.

Along with being a time that you process new memories, your sleep is also the time your brain has to catch up and reset for the next day. If you don’t give your brain this time by skipping out on sleep regularly, you may experience brain fog and difficulties concentrating. In a survival situation, your concentration, focus, and ability to make clear, quick, rational decisions will be vital.

Maintaining your quality sleep is also important for your emotional health. When you experience long-term sleep deprivation, you can be at risk for increased stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to maintain stable mental health at all times, but particularly in survival situations. Keeping up with your sleep will help you maintain a positive mindset, keep up your decision-making skills, and help you stay focused throughout the day.

Sleep & Your Physical Health

In the same way that your brain repairs during your sleep, so does the rest of your body. Your sleep is the time your muscles have to repair and rebuild from any strenuous activities or injuries.

Say you injure your back and have difficulties walking and carrying items throughout the day. Being disabled during a survival situation will not be optimal. The best time you can give your body to heal is your sleep time, so don’t take that away from yourself.

Keep in mind, too, that the way you sleep also affects your body’s ability to heal overnight. If you’re sleeping on a floor, you’ll likely exacerbate your pain rather than heal it. Memory foam surfaces are known to be best for helping relieve pain and help your body heal. Your sleeping position also can affect your pain. Experts suggest sleeping on your back for your best shot at restorative sleep.

How to Get Better Sleep in Any Situation

When you’re in a stressful situation it’s more challenging to rest peacefully at night. These tips will help you get the sleep you need no matter what situation you’re in.

Use caffeine wisely
Caffeine can be a great energy-boosting tool when used correctly. When used in excess, it can make it nearly impossible to sleep at night. If you need caffeine for a quick energy boost that’s okay but avoid caffeine in the last four to six hours before you need to sleep so that you’ll be able to actually relax and fall asleep.

Stay active
Sitting still all day can have one of two effects; it can either make you extremely sleepy all day or it can make it extremely difficult to feel tired at night because you didn’t expend any energy. No matter what your situation is, it’s important that you still burn energy off during the day, even if it’s just by a short walk or quick indoor exercises. Experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise a day for your best night’s sleep.

Power napping
Power napping can be a great way to get that boost of energy you need but be sure not to go overkill on your naps. A 20 to 30 minute nap is all you need for an energy boost. Any longer and you’ll have trouble waking us energized. It’s best to stay on a consistent sleep schedule of going to sleep and waking up at the same time each night, avoiding naps if possible.

Lean on the light
Your body’s circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) is triggered by exposure to light sources. When you’re exposed to natural sunlight, you’ll feel awake, and when you’re in darkness, you’ll feel sleepy all thanks to melatonin. Take advantage of this knowledge and control your light exposure to control your sleep schedule.

Courtesy of Laurie Lawson, a writer based out of NC. You can find her work on sleep-content for Mattress Advisor or connect with her on Instagram @livinglaurie

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