Why is sleep so important?
We require sleep to thrive and function. As a fundamental, sleep affects our well-being in a variety of ways including mental, physical and emotional. Ensuring that we get ‘good sleep’ is essential for both our health and the activities that we undertake. Sleep is also the time when our body produces the most growth hormone so the more good sleep we get the quicker our muscles will heal, build and recover from workouts.
Effects of lost sleep
Loss of sleep can be associated with serious health problems. These include:
- Impaired heart function
Sleep deprivation can also affect us in our everyday lives:
- Work - poor concentration, lower productivity, poor work quality
- School - interference with memory, logical reasoning and concerntration
- Home - lack of sleep makes us fatigued, irritable, forgetful and can also lead to stress and relationships being strained.
How to improve your sleep
Quality of sleep can be improved easily by making small changes, these include:
- Establishing pre-sleep routines that allow you to wind down
- Minimize light exposure, noise and temperature extremes in your bedroom
- Avoid large meals before bed
- Avoid strenuous exercise 2 hours before bed
- Avoid caffeine or stimulants for up to 4 hours before bed
Signs you need more sleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of sense of humour
- Work in a stressful environment
- Hit Snooze repeatedly in the morning #
- Reduced immunity to disease eg colds
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
Amount of sleep required is a very individual thing and many factors needs accounting for, such as age:
- Infants - 16 hours
- Teenagers 9 hours
- Adults 7 to 8 hours (however can range from 5-10)
Too little sleep could cause a ‘sleep debt’, eventually your body will want those hours back, paid in sleep.