How often should I get a good night’s sleep? How many hours should I sleep? Two of the most commonly asked questions. But why do we still feel unsure and struggle to get enough sleep?
Why is sleep so important?
When you’re resting and sleeping, is when your body gets to work on your recovery process. According to the Sleep Foundation on average we need around seven to nine hours of sleep a night – this is different for children and teenagers.
Without this it can lead to poor cognitive function and possibly some long-term health problems.
If you’re saying to yourself right now “I get five to six hours sleep most nights and I function fine, I just don’t need as much sleep”. The Sleep Foundation says that some people develop a tolerance to lack of sleep and you may not be aware of it because less sleep feels normal to you. And you’re not alone. My partner is adamant that he’s fine on five to six hours sleep. Me? I need my seven to eight hours or I’m like a bear with a sore head!
Can you get diabetes from not sleeping?
Research has shown that lack of sleep and insulin resistance may be linked.
Lack of sleep can cause you to reach for comfort food during the day, often sugary snacks. Getting a good night’s sleep helps our hormones to regulate for normal functions like weight control, appetite, and the immune system.
How to sleep better at night naturally?
As a baby you most likely had a bedtime routine, even going into early childhood. And if you have kids now I’m sure you do the same for them.
So when exactly as adults did we start thinking we didn’t need a routine at bedtime anymore?
We can mess up our bodies’ circadian rhythm by eating too late, the light from watching TV or being sat on our phones right up until we turn over to go to sleep, medications, and shift work.
Setting up a routine can really benefit you in helping you to slow down and let your body know it’s the evening and it’s time to relax.
7 benefits from a good night sleep
Improves your attention:
Often referring to baby brain for new mum’s running on lack of sleep, it can affect any one of us if we’re not sleeping right.
Sometimes it’s not even about the length of sleep but the quality of sleep as well. Not sleeping properly can affect your concentration span, risk assessment, and reaction times. Plenty of sleep can help you stay sharp and focused.
Helps to reduce stress:
Little daily stresses will always come up but being chronically stressed every day can put a lot of pressure on your body. Getting enough sleep helps your ability to be able to deal with these stresses in a rational way.
Keeps your immune system strong:
Do you notice when you’re not feeling well you want to sleep more? Sleep gives your body time to rest and repair to help keep germs away, like the common cold.
A study showed that people who had under 7 hours of sleep a night were 3x more likely to develop a cold.
Helps to maintain a healthy weight
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you magically lose weight in your sleep!
But while you sleep your body helps to regulate your hormones, including your appetite hormones. When you’re feeling tired your energy levels are low and you’re more likely to reach for sugary treats, especially later in the day.
Looks after your mental health
Studies who that without enough sleep you’re at risk of developing poor mental health. Often it’s found that insomnia and depression are linked.
Taking care of your heart health
Waking up too often could possibly stimulate your sympathetic nervous system – your flight or fight response. This activates your cardiovascular system and increases your blood pressure in preparation to wake you up.
Supports your relationships
Emotions can be affected by lack of sleep, and not just from feeling grumpy.
When you’re feeling good it’s likely to be felt by everyone around you and your reasoning and communication skills are better with plenty of sleep and rest.
World Sleep Day is 19th March 2021 and this year’s slogan is “Regular sleep, healthy future”. Helping to raise awareness every year on the importance of sleep and your health.
There’s so much more to sleep than meets the eye. When you’re sleeping your body is doing amazing things. With lack of sleep possibly leading to a higher risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, strokes, and poor mental health, it’s never too late to start a bedtime routine.
What one thing could you do today to improve your bedtime routine? Let me know in the comments.