It is evident that different people need different amounts of sleep, and some even function well with just a few hours each night. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that most people aren’t getting enough shut-eye. The question is: does your lack of sleep affect your health?
Why Is Sleep Important?
The human body is finely attuned to daily rhythms, and sleep is no exception. Sleep usually takes place at night and has the effect of making you feel rested and refreshed when you wake up. It also helps you stay healthy.
Sleep allows your body to recover from a full day’s work: during deep sleep, some important hormones are produced which help with growth and tissue repair — without sleep, these chemicals cannot be made, so your body begins to break down. A lack of sleep can affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Indeed, some studies have shown that people suffering from insomnia are three times more likely to catch flu, for example
Here Are 10 Tips On How To Improve Your Sleep
1. Bedsheets Are Important!
The right bedding can help to keep you cool and comfortable. Cotton is a good choice because it absorbs sweat, while silk or satin sheets may be more appealing for their luxurious feel, but these could make you overheat during the night. Make sure your pillows aren’t too big or small — standard size ones are best. There are also bamboo bed sheets that are an eco-friendly alternative to cotton. These are a great way for you to stay comfortable and not worry about allergies.
2. Keep Regular Hours
It is important to have a set bedtime so your body gets used to falling asleep at the same time each night. Also, try to keep waking times consistent too. And if you don’t fall asleep straight away, resist the temptation to go to bed again — it will just make you feel more tired when you wake up in the morning.
3. Avoid Stimulants
Caffeine is found in products such as tea, coffee, and chocolate but is also added to certain soft drinks and painkillers, so check food labels before eating or drinking anything else. As well as keeping you awake, caffeine can make you irritable too! Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it can seriously disrupt sleep later in the night, plus it dehydrates you, which isn’t ideal.
You should always try to implement more healthy habits and choices into your life. These will show great results over time.
4. Exercise Regularly — Your Body Needs A Break!
Regular exercise is good for you in many ways, including the sleep department. But try not to do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime as it can make you feel wired and adrenaline will keep you up at night.
5. Create A Restful Environment
Your bedroom should be a place where you switch off from the stresses of the day — no work or television! Make sure that there are no distractions such as electronic devices either because these could affect your brain’s production of melatonin, an important hormone in regulating your sleep/wake cycle.
Your bedroom is also best reserved for sleeping, so leave any other activities firmly outside the door!
6. Manage Stress
If you are anxious or stressed your body produces cortisol which inhibits sleepiness, so make sure you tackle problems when they arise instead of allowing them to build up. But avoid intense mental activity before bedtime too because this stimulates the brain…so do something relaxing like listening to music or reading instead.
7. Don’t Go Over Your Sleep Debt!
If you have a busy week with little shut-eye, don’t try and “catch up” on the weekend by sleeping in — this won’t help you catch up but will just mess with your mind/body’s natural rhythms, leaving you feeling groggy all over again. Try to stick to normal hours, even if it means getting less sleep than usual.
8. Watch What You Eat!
Spicy foods may give you heartburn and make it difficult to fall asleep, while heavy meals too close to bedtime can bring on sleep-disturbing indigestion or cramps. Try eating your evening meal earlier in the evening — this will help stop your digestive system from disturbing your night’s rest later on…and don’t forget to brush your teeth!
9. Get A New Mattress!
As we age, our bones become more fragile, so getting a new mattress with extra cushioning is a must if you suffer from joint or chronic aches and pains which stop you from getting a good night’s sleep.
10. Create A Bedtime Ritual
Wind down before hitting the sack by reading a book or listening to calm and soothing music — anything which takes your mind off everyday stresses so that when it is time for bed, your body knows it’s time to switch off!
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can suffer in a number of ways. You may be affected mentally: irritable and moody, finding it hard to concentrate and become forgetful — and even depressed. Lack of sleep can also leave you feeling physically weaker, making you more prone to accidents.
Your body’s ability to burn off fat is also impaired if you’re not sleeping well, so weight problems or obesity can be an indirect result of lack of sleep as well as diabetes and other metabolic illnesses.
If the effects aren’t serious enough already, there is evidence that permanent damage may occur if you continue to deprive yourself of sleep on a regular basis; this includes conditions such as heart disease and diabetes
Having a good night’s sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. If you don’t get enough shut-eye, this could lead to chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. It’s very important to have a regular bedtime routine, which includes everything from creating a restful environment to managing stress and getting a good mattress. If you do this then sleep, and all its benefits should follow!