It’s a sad fact that today, millions of people around the world are suffering from sleep deprivation. There are a number of reasons why, but the truth of the matter is that people are sleeping less than previously, and for many, the sleep they do get is of poor quality. Sleep is important for our wellbeing, just as much as exercise and diet. From our early years right up until senior ones, good quality sleep at the right times will maintain your physical and mental health, as well as your quality of life. Ongoing problems with sleep can seriously affect your health and increase your risk of chronic health problems.
How Much Sleep is Needed?
This varies considerably, but in general it is considered that on average, eight hours sleep should be sufficient. There are people who can function perfectly well on as few as six hours sleep, and there are others who require ten. You may have heard people say that they need less sleep as they’ve got older. This is not strictly true. What has changed is their ability to sleep six to eight hours in a row.
There are a number of reasons why sleep is so important. Let’s look at some of them now.
Improved Concentration and Productivity
For the brain to function efficiently, it needs the right amount of sleep. Various functions such as concentration, performance, cognition and productivity can be adversely affected by a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation has been widely studied. One such study involved a group of medical interns. When working more than 24 hours in a row they were 36% more likely to make medical errors than those who were getting enough sleep. It has also been found that a lack of sleep can affect a person in the same way as alcohol intoxication.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Getting the correct amount of sleep means you are less likely to suffer heart disease or a stroke, than those who suffer with a poor night’s sleep. The quality and length of your sleep affects many aspects of your health. Sleeping less than 7-8 hours increases your risk.
You might not realize it, but your mind is pretty busy while you sleep. While you are sleeping, your brain is strengthening memories and practicing the skills you learned while awake. Something happens when you’re asleep that consolidates what you have learned.
As well as consolidating your memories, your brain also seems to undergo a period of reorganization and restructuring while you’re asleep. It is thought that this results in increased creativity. So if you fancy writing a book, painting a picture or composing a tune, get a good night’s sleep before putting pen to paper.
Getting enough sleep is important for all ages. Sleep problems can start in young children and continue into teenage years and beyond. That’s why it is vital you read this how to get toddler to sleep properly article, provided by Pampers. Teaching your child healthy sleeping habits will help when they reach school age. A good night’s sleep is vital for your child’s performance at school. Those with sleep problems are more likely to have lower grades due to a lack of attention and learning. A few poor night’s sleep shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, recurring lack of sleep will impair their learning.
Lower Stress Levels
Lack of sleep is a big contributor when it comes to high-stress levels. Getting the right amount of sleep will reduce your stress and allow you to control your blood pressure better. Cholesterol levels are also affected, making it significant when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Staying Safe on the Highway
In 2009, it was reported that being tired was causing more fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes than drunken driving. Lack of sleep affects a person’s reaction time and their ability to make decisions. One night without the right amount of sleep is equal to having an alcoholic drink and just as detrimental to your ability to drive.
Sleep Quality and Depression
Many people who suffer from depression also complain of poor quality or a lack of sleep. Sleep problems are also linked to death by suicide. Disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea suffer higher rates of depression.
Tips to Help You Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There are several things you can do to improve your night’s sleep.
- Exposure to bright light – bright light exposure during the daytime helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy.
- Less exposure to blue light – blue light is emitted from electronic devices and fools your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
- Reduce intake of caffeine – caffeine can stay in your body for 6-8 hours, so try not to drink it after 3-4pm.
- Cut out the long naps – power naps are beneficial, but anything longer than 30 minutes can affect your sleep quality.
- No alcohol – alcohol increases the symptoms of sleep apnea and alters nighttime melatonin production.
- Bedroom environment – reduce noise and lighting, maintain a comfortable temperature, choose the right furniture and arrange it correctly.
- No late meals – eating late in the evening impacts on the quality of your sleep and the natural release of certain hormones and melatonin.
- Relax – learn some relaxation techniques or why not listen to relaxing music, read a book or take a bath.
- Consult a doctor – there are many health conditions that can be the cause of sleep problems, so speak to a doctor and voice your concerns.
- Regular bedtime – developing a regular time to go to bed will help you sleep.
- Regular exercise – this is one of the best ways to improve your sleep and health.
Sleep is vital for your own wellbeing and your health. There are many reasons why you might not be getting enough beauty sleep, and it’s vital you get to the bottom of your problem. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are many. There are ways you can overcome some of the sleep problems you might be having. However, there are some that require expert help.