Why Is Sleep So Important To Our Mental And Physical Well Being?

Date :November 30, 2019 By :Aly Johnson

We all know we should be aiming for 8 hours kip each night. But seriously, how many of us actually achieve that and why should we be striving to spend ⅓ of our lives asleep?

Fact – did you know you can actually die from sleep deprivation? No, seriously, it’s a real thing. 

We’re not saying that if you don’t get 8 hours of slumber each and every evening you’ll perish, far from it. But do you know why sleep is so important to your mental and physical well being? 

Sleep for physical health

Sleep plays a huge factor in maintaining your physical health. From ensuring that your body functions properly – from ensuring your heart beats regularly and your blood pumps at the right pressure, to helping you maintain a good weight. 

Poor sleep has been linked to weight gain, with research showing that those who sleep less weighed more than those who get enough sleep. In fact, one of the risk factors in obesity is not getting enough sleep. One study even showed that adults who didn’t get enough sleep were 55% more likely to become obese, with that number rising sharply to 89% in children.

Why is this? Because sleep deprived people tend to eat more. Not getting enough sleep plays havoc with your body’s functioning including regulating appetite hormones, leading sleepy people to eat more. 

Also, sleep affects how your body regulates insulin. Insulin is responsible for controlling your blood sugar levels, and in sleep deprived individuals, research found that they have higher than average blood glucose levels, leaving them at risk of developing diabetes. 

But that’s not all, sleep is also vital for normal growth and development, not just growth in terms of height for children and teenagers, but in terms of building muscle mass and helping your body repair cells and damaged tissue. 

Sleep for mental health

Sleep is as essential for our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It’s the time when our bodies get to rest and heal, when our brains can process information collected that day. 

And if we don’t get enough sleep, it’s not just our physical health that suffers, our mental health takes a hit too. 

Poor sleep has been unequivocally linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. And the worst thing about sleep and mental health is that they are cyclical – poor sleep can lead to worrying, and worrying can lead to poor sleep. 

How to get better sleep

Here’s the thing, like everything in life it isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. And whilst the recommended amount of sleep each evening is 8 hours, that doesn’t mean that every single one of us requires that much. 

Some of us just need 4 hours sleep per night, whereas others require 10 – sleep is pretty subjective. So, don’t focus on trying to squeeze in as much sleep as possible, focus on making the sleep you do get work hard for you.

Try these tips to improve the quality of your sleep: 

  1. Establish a routine – try and get to bed at the same time each night. Routine is key here, the more you do something, the quicker it becomes a habit. And if you’re hitting the hay at the same time every night, your body will start to wind down in anticipation of this, making it easier for you to fall asleep. 
  2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening – blue light is what wakes our bodies up, so the last thing we want as we are trying to drift off is a blast of blue light tricking our brains into thinking it’s day time. So ditch the screens a couple of hours before going to bed, and let your body wind down naturally. Or if you can’t do that, wear glasses that block blue light, or download an app that will block the blue light on your device, such as f.lux
  3. Adjust the temperature in your room – if your bedroom is too hot or too cold, it’s going to disturb your sleep and wake you up. Set the thermostat to between 19-21oC and you should sleep soundly.
  4. Ensure you’re getting plenty of exerciseexercise is key to sleeping well, just make sure you’re not doing it too close to bedtime as it can impact your ability to fall asleep as exercise stimulates your body, which is not conducive to rest.
  5. Don’t eat too close to bedtimesnacking close to bedtime or eating your evening meal late in the day will keep you awake as you digest. Try not to eat anything for at least 2 hours prior to going to bed.
  6. Consume foods that promote good sleep – there are several homeopathic remedies that can help promote good sleep, such as:
    • Ginkgo biloba
    • Valerian root
    • Magnesium
    • Lavender
  7. Relax – take a hot bath or a shower before bed. Not only will this raise your blood temperature making it easier for you to nod off, but it will help you sleep more deeply as you’ll be relaxed. Add in a lavender bubble bath and you’re onto a winner. 

 

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