Sleep Might Be Better than Just Sitting Around

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Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started keeping us at home, it's been way easier to just full-on lose time. You might wake up at a semi-reasonable hour, start puttering around or getting into your work, and all of a sudden it's after 1 p.m. and you have no idea what you've been doing. As it happens, there's neuroscience that explains the time loss, but as the hours tick by, you might be missing the chance to feel happier and less wrung out.

That's thanks to new research just published by Iowa State University. Kinesthesiologists have found that one factor that contributes to stress is not totally intuitive: just sitting around. If you're sedentary for a prolonged period, you're likely to experience higher stress levels, worse moods, and increased BMI. The good news is that even light energy expenditure can counteract these outcomes, as can falling asleep. Walking around your home or standing while you prepare a meal can count, although finding an outlet for physical activity has well-known benefits.

"It may be easier for people to change their behavior if they feel it's doable and doesn't require a major change," said lead author Jacob Meyer. "Replacing sedentary time with housework or other light activities is something they may be able to do more consistently than going for an hour-long run."

Rather than scanning your phone for hours or mainlining TV, consider just going to sleep. Keeping a consistent bedtime schedule is one of the easiest things you can do for your mental health, and a good night's rest does a lot to literally repair frayed nerves. Even a nap can help curb your bad feelings, but remember, even sleep requires moderation.