In today's busy world, sleep is one of the first things we take for granted and cut out of our schedules. If it were possible to simply switch back and forth between getting no sleep when you are busy, and getting lots of sleep when you aren't, sleep deprivation wouldn't be a serious problem.
But it is a serious problem, because the hormones, body states, and brain cycles that regulate our sleep are easy to break, and hard to fix. On top of that fact, medical scientists keep finding ways in which sleep is vital to the functions of all our bodily systems, including mood, anxiety levels, muscle recovery, injury healing, digestion, and more. A healthy body and mind are largely dependent on a healthy sleep schedule. And by healthy, I mean sleeping until you are not sleepy anymore. (For those scientifically minded among you, here is a review of a lot of the literature on the matter.)
Luckily, Eastern style Mind-Body healthcare is here to help. Meditative practice has been shown not only to reduce anxiety, symptoms of depression, stress levels, and more, but also to act as a kind of "reset" switch for your sleep cycles.
It may not seem like it, but every time you get a full-night's sleep, you are investing in your health, and in your future productivity. It doesn't matter is you are a college student cramming for an exam, or an elderly person just looking for the energy to go on your morning walk. If you start to shorten your sleep schedule to accomplish other tasks, you are actually making it harder to accomplish those same tasks in the future.
So start sleeping! You shouldn't need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. Your body knows when it has gotten enough sleep. And if you can't sleep, or can't stop sleeping due to a chronic condition like depression, start meditating! It can be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the better you will sleep, and the better you sleep, the better you will be at meditating.
Now that is what I call a higher quality of life!