Did you know that we spend about one third of our lives sleeping? However, research suggests that the majority of people are just not getting enough. It is recommended that each adult gets between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Sleep is essential for our emotional and physical wellbeing. It has direct effects on a wide variety of things including our mood, stress and inflammation levels and health. Without proper sleep, this can affect how our minds process memories, our concentration levels and our motivation.
Sleep is regulated internally by your Circadian Rhythm. Circadian rhythm or your ‘internal body clock’ as it is more commonly referred to, is a 24 hour cycle that carries out essential functions within your body. One of the most well known circadian rhythms is the sleep wake cycle.
What are the side effects of sleep deprivation you may ask?
Lack of sleep can have huge effects on mood, cognition, attention span and reaction time. Prolonged sleep deprivation can have huge effects on your health and even your body weight.
Studies conducted on shift workers, showed that lack of sleep due to difficulties adjusting circadian rhythm to work schedules led to people consuming more high sugar foods and caffeinated drinks in order to stay alert and awake. The long term implications of this meant that people became dependent on these practices. This led to weight gain which in turn increased inflammation within the body putting increased pressure on bodily systems such as the nervous and cardiovascular system.
Additional studies on sleep deprivation have revealed that prolonged instances of sleep deprivation increase the risk of poor mental health, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Of course, it is not always possible to stick to a good sleep routine especially when you feel stressed, have young children, a work deadline approaching or just life in general.
There are however some things that can be done in order to improve one's sleep quality:
- Pick a bed-time that is realistic for you and your schedule and try to stick with this every night.
- Ensure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature and that it is quite dark.
- Try to avoid blue light for at least one hour before bed. Why not swap screens for a book instead?
- Consume less caffeine in the hours leading up to bed
- Try to incorporate some fresh air and physical activity into your daily routine.
Disclaimer: If you are seriously struggling with your sleep or any sleep related issues please consult a specialist or doctor for expert advice.