Sleep is often seen as a luxury rather than a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. Not only are we plugged in 24/7, we’re driven by deadlines and a fear of missing out so there’s always something better or more urgent that needs doing.
But getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference to our day-to-day lives. It can have a tremendous impact on our performance at work, school, or gym. It also affects how we interact with those around us. From mood stability and concentration to immune health and muscle recovery, sleep is vital to waking life.
Getting the right amount of good quality sleep is all about living better in the here and now. Combined with a healthy approach to food and exercise, a good night’s sleep is an investment in feeling great every day.
The Verdict Is In – Getting enough sleep is the single most important thing you can do to make day-to-day life a little better.
But it’s one of those things we take for granted. According to the 2018 World Relaxation Report, 51% of adults around the world say they don’t get enough sleep. The independent research study by Wakefield Research named the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia among some of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world.
It’s a shame because quality sleep has proven benefits. Here’s why you should start making sleep a priority.
The day-to-day benefits of good sleep
- Reduced stress – Chronic sleep deprivation causes elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream. So if you’ve been feeling more overwhelmed than usual, make sure to get enough sleep. Relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises can also help you manage stress.
- Better immunity –A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) found that sleep enables the body’s T-cells to fight infections more effectively, bolstering your immune response. So if you’ve been feeling under the weather lately, crawl back to bed and get some rest.
- Lowered blood pressure –Excess cortisol can cause elevated blood pressure, which in turn puts you at higher risk of heart disease and strokes. Restful sleep promotes a state of relaxation that can help keep your blood pressure under control.
- Mood regulation – So if you find yourself getting snippy with your spouse or just feeling grumpier than usual, lack of sleep might be to blame. Dr. Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, says thatlack of sleepcauses mood changes, memory loss, and poor concentration, which in turn creates problems in our personal and professional lives. Mental health concerns like depression have also been linked to sleep deprivation. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that over 90% of patients who have depression also suffer from poor sleep quality with 40% saying that they have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
- Weight management –Poor sleep has also been linked to weight gain with short sleep duration being one of the biggest risk factors for obesity. So if you’re trying to keep the weight off, make sure to get enough sleep along with regular exercise and balanced meals.
- Appetite regulation –Studies have also shown that those who sleep less tend to consume more calories throughout the day. They may also have more difficulty controlling their appetite as sleep deprivation throws your hormones off balance. So if you’ve been feeling more ravenous lately, getting quality sleep should be a priority.
How much sleep is enough?
So how much sleep do you really need? The numbers differ based on age and other factors, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults.
Babies and toddlers need up to 14 hours while teenagers are advised to get 8 to 10 hours in.
That’s easier said than done, of course. A global survey by Phillips found that anxiety and stress prevent 54% of adults from getting enough sleep. 40% blame poor sleep on their environment while 37% cite work or school as their primary obstacle to getting a good night’s sleep.
How to get the sleep you need
Experts advise sleep-deprived adults to follow a regular sleep schedule to help regulate their body clock. That means going to and getting out of bed at roughly the same time each day.
They also caution against taking caffeine and doing a strenuous workout too close to bedtime.
If you’re a shift worker, with work hours that require you to stay awake and alert when you should ideally be sleeping, experts recommend keeping your bedroom as dark, quiet, and comfortable as possible when you come home to sleep during the day.
You can also try having a warm shower or simple breathing techniques that may help you to relax and sleep better naturally.
It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep makes us happier, more alert, and more productive. Making small adjustments to your sleeping habits can make a world of a difference.
Bonus Tip: Keep your bedroom free of technology and resist the temptation to check emails or social media before bed. Let your bedroom be a haven for sleep and relaxation after a busy day.
Important Note: There are many sleep disorders that require a medical diagnosis and treatment, so if you are at all concerned, please seek advice from a medical professional. This Blog was medically reviewed by Dr Ronald Krueger MD F.A.A.C.S.