Why is sleep important and what are the personal benefits?
There are many reasons why sleep is so important, a few are listed below. The better quality and quantity of sleep you have all helps towards your optimal health and wellbeing. Health is not just about nutrition and exercise; sleep is just as important to ensure great health, as it is the only time our bodies heal!
Sleep affects the brains functions such as cognition concentration, productivity and performance as well as enhancing your memory. The better quality and quantity of the sleep that you get means that your concentration and productivity can be improved, as well as overall improvement of the functionality of the brain.
Sleep has a strong positive impact on the brain when you get the right quality and amount.
Having poor sleep can affect your emotions and interactions with people around you and it reduces your ability to interact socially and process emotional information such as recognising different emotions of others.
And while we are on the topic of emotions, there is a big link between loss of sleep and depression, this could be the result of poor sleep over a longer period of time.
Your overall immune function can be hindered with lack of sleep and catching a cold could be as simple as not fitting in 8 or more hours of sleep per night. A little top tip: eating more garlic can help warn away colds. (But ensure you get your sleep too!)
There are other hinderances to health, such as weight gain and obesity, which can be caused by shorter sleep duration in both children and adults, this is linked to the deprivation of sleep creating a greater appetite and therefore you eat more calories in the day time because of the appetite hormones being disrupted by lack of sleep. Your glucose metabolism can be slowed down as the blood sugars can be affected by the lack of sleep, which reduces the insulin sensitivity, this can cause prediabetes even in healthy adults.
Body inflammation can be increased as sleep loss can activate undesirable points of inflammation and cell damage, the long term affects of this in the digestive tract, which could be inflammatory bowel disease.
Generally, people who have poorer sleep are at a higher risk of heart disease or stroke compared to those people who get 8 or more hours sleep per night.
Your physical performance can be enhanced and maximised during physical activity by having a greater quality of sleep for 8 or more hours per night. The longer the duration of your sleep that you have, (suitable to you) can improve factors of your performance such as speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing. On the other hand, the poorer quality or quantity of sleep that you have per night can hinder your performance and even cause functional limitations such as slower movements; like walking or lower grip strength.
Why do we need 8 hours of sleep?
It is recommended that healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night at the least, and anyone younger… need’s even more! This is to help the growth and development as well as powering the mind and body and strengthening every system in the body just like adults.
How can you improve your sleep?
Set a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on the weekend, a balance in life is needed. If you make your schedule realistic you should find that you do not break it too often but if it is not, you will find yourself overruling it.
Similarly, another organisational method is to have a routine before bed, such as removing all technology at a certain time (at least an hour before bed is recommended), practicing a relaxing routine to prepare yourself to fall asleep quickly and easily. This also may include minimising distractions in your surroundings, such as lighting, temperatures and ensuring you have a supportive and comfortable mattress: a good sleeping environment.
Be mindful of what you eat and drink before bed, your intake of caffeine and alcohol can hinder your sleep!
Top tips on how to fall asleep quickly.
Room temperature: It is easier for your body to fall asleep in a cooler environment. When you lie down your body naturally cools down, if you are having trouble to cool down at bedtime try having a bath or shower to help speed up the body’s temperature changes. When the brain is sent signals that you have cooled down, it will send you to sleep therefore the faster your body temperature cools down, the faster you will fall asleep.
As mentioned previously, a schedule can help as your body adjust its own body/internal clock and set a bed time at the time that you have chosen to set. If you stick to this routine of going to bed at the same time everyday then your body will get used to this time and be ready for bed, this will also help waking up at the same time every day too. Do not forget to include your relaxation time before bed. Reading a book is ideal!
Allow your body to know daylight from darkness, this can help your body clock recognise the time of day and influence sleep and wakefulness. Your body will be aware that daylight means you should be awake and alert, this can be any kind of light whether it is natural or artificial, and that darkness boosts your feeling of sleepiness.
So you have had a few hours sleep and woken up in the middle of the night, yes its horrible to think you’re losing that precious sleeping time but clock watching is the worst thing you can do that can even make you waste more sleep time! You can cause anxiety about sleeplessness by watching the time tick by throughout the middle of the night and this can also become a regular thing where you will find yourself awake at the same time every night, as your body will make routine of it!
How can we help?
Our 12 week health and wellbeing program covers various areas to benefit and improve your health and wellbeing, check out our health and wellbeing page for more information: https://performancetosummit.co.uk/health-wellbeing/
A keyway to improve your health and wellbeing is fitness, so why not join us for our full functional sessions, face to face or online! Check out our subscription options to see which best suits you: https://performancetosummit.co.uk/outdoor-group-fitness/
For further information, why not have a look at these links:
Author: Performance To Summit Team – Dave Pickles & Fay Burrows