If you have ever worked through the night to meet a deadline or study for a test, you know the day after results are not pretty.
The body feels sluggish, the mind fogged or frenetic, we can be excessively hungry and moody. Recent research shows that a chronic lack of sleep is far more damaging than previously assumed, and a sleep deficit as small as an hour a night can increase the risk of a wide range of conditions.
If we do not get enough sleep, our immune system goes into overdrive and causes systemic inflammation, and this turns on dangerous genetic switches.
These are a few of the side effects of sleep deficiency.
Increases symptoms of Depression: - Lack of sleep disrupts neurotransmitters to the brain, which regulate mood.
Increased Risk of Heart disease: - Blood pressure increases with lack of sleep. Long term sleep deprivation increases stroke risk four times.
Weight Gain: - Metabolism and associated hormones are disrupted, which cause cravings and overeating.
Impaired Mental Function: - Lack of sleep impairs memory and the ability to process information. It impairs alertness and creates headaches.
Higher levels of Anxiety: - Lack of sleep raises the brain’s anticipatory reactions, increasing overall anxiety levels. There are increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that is associated with stress.
Increased risk of Diabetes: - Lack of sleep increases levels of cortisol and norepinephrine; both are associated with insulin resistance.
So how can you help yourself to get a better night?
Creating a good bedtime routine and a restful environment is a great place to start.
Having a sleep-friendly bedroom helps settle you down and moves you away from all your daily noise, preferably with no TV and leaving all your phones and iPad etc., downstairs.
A cool room typically between 60 and 65 degrees makes for the best sleep. Experiment with your room’s exact temperature to find what makes you comfortable. Lining your curtains will help keep the room dark and restful. You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Invest in a good bed and a supportive pillow, and comfortable bedding. Taking a hot bath an hour or so before bed helps relax aching muscles. Drink herbal teas and avoid caffeine and alcohol in the 3 hours before bedtime. Avoid going to bed on a full tummy of food.
An excellent daily exercise routine helps prepare you for a restful sleep. Practice some restful yoga poses to encourage the body to wind down.
Create a regular, going to bed and getting up routine. Try and keep this at the weekends to prevent the Monday morning sleep hangover.
Your body likes the regularity of habits. Changing it is disruptive.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout our lives.
Just think about how much babies struggle when they don’t get enough sleep.
Adults suffer the same way. Getting enough quality sleep at the right time can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. Sadly, this is an area in life that many folk disregard.
Allowing yourself the time to stop and prepare for sleep will let your next day to fly!