As we draw to the end of Sleep Awareness Week - there is no better time to reflect on our own sleep habits and routines we may have. Sleep is different for everyone, but it's come to light that over half of the people in the UK have issues with drifting off.
This year's theme for World Sleep Day is Sleep is Essential for Health. Often life can get in the way and priorities can change meaning your sleep habits are affected and it's easy to overlook the importance it has on our general, emotional and physical wellbeing. We're advised getting 7-9 hours a night is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But why?
REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY
Sleep is an important factor in balancing the stress hormones that are always present in our bodies. When we sleep less these hormones are increased. Unfortunately, this can throw us into a sleep > stress cycle, the more stressed you are the less likely you are to have a good night's rest and vice versa, you'll be feeling more stressed and anxious due to your lack of sleep. It can be a tricky cycle to break out of sometimes - so why not try to create a relaxing evening routine to help you wind down and switch off from a busy or stressful day.
CONTRIBUTES TO OUR ALERTNESS
Sleep is like a reset button for your brain, in the words of Matthew Walker, sleep expert and Author "Sleep is a power cleanse for the brain".
Sleep can help your brain retune and get ready for the following day. Processing and filing away all of the day's information so you can feel refreshed and energised. So, not getting enough sleep means your brand hasn't had time to process your day's doings, learnings etc meaning it often leads to lower alertness, less concentration and in extreme cases impaired judgment.
Regular, good-quality sleep can help your body in fighting off infections and recover from illness. While you sleep your body has time to regenerate cells that are needed to protect you from illness and disease. There have been studies showing how regular poor-quality sleep (which is defined as less than five hours a night) can result in higher cases of both short - and long-term health issues. The sleep foundation has more information on sleep and the immune system here.
HELPS IMPROVE MEMORY
Pulling an all-nighter before an exam might seem like a good idea at the time. But actually, getting a good night's sleep beforehand has been proven to be much more beneficial. Lack of sleep not only impairs your memory but also makes it harder to learn new things. Sleep allows your mind to process the events from the day before, even working through problems whilst your body rests. So, skip that all-nighter and get a decent eight hours instead!
BOOSTS YOUR ENERGY
Sounds like an obvious one, but sleep is a great mood and energy booster! Letting your body recover from whatever you've been doing the previous day, whether it's a tough workout, stressful exam, work deadline or even an emotional issue. Getting regular and good quality sleep is the most natural way in keeping your energy levels high and restoring your vitality.