Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is absolutely essential for a persons health and wellbeing. Despite this, millions of people everyday struggle to get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. Ensuring that you get enough quality sleep at the right times can help maintain your physical and mental health, whilst improving your quality of life. The way you feel while you’re awake at work or school entirely depends on what happened the night before when you were sleeping. During sleep, your body is working behind the scenes to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In adolescents, sleep holds a vital role of development and growth. As well as being fantastic for your overall health, getting adequate sleep is seen as a very important safety measure, and being tired during certain situations can put your life at risk. For example, research suggests that up to 20% of car accidents on major roads are sleep related!
Benefits Of Sleep
It seems pretty obvious to most that sleep is incredibly beneficial. Even without fully understanding what sleep does for us, we know all to well that going without sleep for long periods will make us feel terrible, and that getting a peacful night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world! If you’re not managing to get the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep a night, here are some of main benefits that will convince you to shut down your computer, turn off the lights, and go to bed an hour early tonight.
- Improved overall health: Sleep deficiency has been scientifically proven to result in a whole host of serious health problems, these include heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. Most of these health conditions develop over many months or years of developing a poor sleeping pattern.
- Better sex life: Impaired sleep has also been strongly associated with lower testosterone levels in men over the years which unfortunately results in a decreased sex drive. Furthermore, a persons sex life is often negatively affected by being too tired, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a study that concluded up to 26% of peoples sex lives tend to suffer because they’re just too tired.
- Improved mood: Not getting enough sleep affects your minds emotional regulation and makes you more prone to emotional outbursts throughout the day.
- Better weight control: People who are tired often find themselves hungrier! This is mainly because people who aren’t sleeping as often are lacking vital energy to complete daily tasks. This state of energy depletion often leads people to craving high-fat and high-calorie foods.
- Better memory: Various research studies have been able to demonstrate that while we sleep, our brains process and “bank” our memories from the previous day. Not getting enough sleep seems to risk those memories not get stored correctly, and can ultimately be lost.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
Most people need approximately eight hours of high-quality sleep a night to function properly throughout the day, but some people need more and some need less. What matters most is that you work out just how much sleep you require and then try to achieve it. A general rule of thumb is that if you wake up feeling tired and spend the entirety of the day longing for the chance to have a power nap, it’l likely that your not getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has released this guideline which gives healthy ranges of sleep for people of various ages, however we’ve summed it up below.
- Preschoolers (3-5): Should aim for a longer sleep of 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): Sleep 9-11 hours per night.
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep 8-10 hours per night.
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours per night.
- Adults (26-64): Sleep 7-9 hours per night.
- Older adults (65+): Aim to sleep 7-8 hours per night.
Can You Oversleep?
It is quite common to oversleep, especially at weekends and other days of rest. Oversleeping causes your body clock and sleep rhythms to alter and this makes falling asleep even more difficult when the work week comes along!
How To Improve Your Sleep Pattern
There are many simple lifestyle changes that you can implement to improve your daily sleep pattern. The most important change you can make is to set a sleep target and create a sleep schedule. The aim is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, being consistent reinforces your body’s sleeping cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. Once you get into a stable routine you will find it much easier to fall asleep at the designated time, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Another important lifestyle change you can make is your diet! It is difficult to adequately fall asleep if you are either hungry or too full, and this discomfort may keep you awake at night. Furthermore, drinking too much before going to bed may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet. Other dietary changes that need to be taken into consideration are the consumption of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. All of these have stimulating effects and often take hours to wear off.
6 Ingenious Products That Will Improve Your Sleep
Sun Wake-Up Light (Phillips)
A wake-up light is a revolutionary piece of technology that will banish the constant need to constantly press snooze on your alarm clock. Wake-up lights aim to gradually easy your body out of its deep REM sleep before you physically open your eyes. This process makes it much easier for you to wake up in the morning and get out of bed, rather than being rudely awoken by a brash alarm sound before going back to sleep. Using a Phillips wake-up light allows you to set calmer and more relaxed tones to further ease you out of a deep sleep.
White Noise Sound Machine
Noise reducers can be packaged differently, but overall the goal is to reduce outside noise by creating ambient or white noise. A noise reducer may be helpful to certain people, explains David Rapoport, MD, medical director of the New York University Sleep Disorders Center and associate director of the Bellevue Hospital Pulmonary Function Laboratory. Think airplanes, loud trains, and yes, snoring. “Many people are very sensitive to noise. A noise reducer gets rid of noise which will disturb you. It makes sense for the right use.” He adds that some people leave the television on for background noise but that is not a true substitute for white noise.
Memory Foam Pillow
Using a decent pillow to sleep at night has been proven to vastly improve most forms of neck and back pain, and you can see why. Using a memory foam pillow decreases the amount of pressure on your cervical spine and skull. It does this by keeping your head in a neutral position, no matter which direction you decide to sleep. Although it may seem like an expensive purchase for a pillow, memory foam pillows tend to last up to six times longer than regular polyester pillows.
Fitbit Charge 2
One of Fitbit’s more underused applications is its fantastic sleep tracker to assess and progress your sleep patterns! Fitbit Trackers automatically detect your sleep, meaning you simply need to wear your tracker to bed and wait until the morning to see your results. After you sync your tracker in the morning you’ll see your sleep information on your dashboard. A Fitbit will not directly improve your sleep, however it does allow you access to some very interesting personal data which can be used to treat your poor sleep patterns.
Humans are designed to sleep in darkness, and for those who have to sleep during daylight hours it can be serious struggle to get an adequate amount of rest! If people are sleeping in an area with an annoying light source, a sleep mask will certainly resolve that problem. It is important to use a sleep mask that is designed to shape your face, whilst lightweight to prevent pressure being placed on your eyes.