We've all been there...
It's 11 PM and you're just about to drift off to sleep when you remember that you didn't finish that project for work tomorrow. Or maybe you're trying to catch up on your favourite TV show before bed and end up watching just one more episode...and then another. Before you know it, it's 2 AM, you've missed the sleep window and you're bleary-eyed, trying to will yourself to fall asleep thinking "if I fall asleep NOW I will still get 4 hours and 37 minutes sleep"
But what if we told you that there are real benefits to getting a good night's sleep?
Learning about the importance of sleep can help us change our attitude towards bedtime and see it as a health priority. Taking small steps to get into a healthier sleep routine can completely change your life.
Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. When we don't get enough sleep, we are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. We are also more likely to catch colds and other illnesses. Sleep can boost your immune system. When you're well-rested, your body is better able to fight off infection and illness. Getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress levels, which can further contribute to a strong immune system.
Lack of sleep can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. If you're feeling tired and run down, chances are you're not going to be in the best of spirits. Getting enough sleep can help improve your mood and make you feel more rested and relaxed and reduce anxiety levels. Additionally, when we're well-rested, we're better able to focus and concentrate, which can also lead to improved mental health.
Sleep can help regulate your hormones. Hormones play a vital role in our bodies, and getting enough sleep can help keep them balanced. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can have a negative impact on our health. Getting enough sleep can help keep our hormones balanced and prevent cortisol from rising to unhealthy levels. (Check out our blog post on sleep and hormones to find out more!)
Not only is sleep important for our physical and mental health, but it is also essential for our cognitive functioning. Sleep helps us consolidate memories and learn new information. It also helps us pay attention, solve problems, and make decisions. In short, sleep is vital for our overall well-being.
Struggling at work? Finding it hard to concentrate? Finding it hard to lose those last few pounds? Finding you are less patient or getting stressed more easily? Feeling anxious or over thinking? Before anything else, ask yourself the question; how am I sleeping? Is my sleep long enough and is it good quality? Is it restful and something easy or is it something I stress over? Am I waking up during the night or laying in bed tossing and turning unable to switch off?
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. However, some people may need more or less depending on their age, lifestyle, and health conditions. For example, pregnant women and people who suffer from insomnia may need 9-10 hours of sleep per night.
Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep
There are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:
1) Establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. If your sleep pattern is erratic, you can make slow steps to a more realistic time routine. It wont be perfect over night;
2) Create a relaxing bedtime routine by taking a bath or reading a book before bed. 5 minutes of simple self care go a long way. Think applying lotion or brushing your hair or taking slow deep breaths for a few minutes;
3) Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed;
4) Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. Try earplugs if you live in a noisy area or an eye mask if you struggle to keep light out. You want to eliminate anything that could wake you during the night;
5) Make sure your bed, pillows and duvet are all comfortable. Think soft, use bolster pillows to support joints if you need. Ensure your bedding is breathable and clean it regularly to avoid bacterial build up. The last thing you need is to be waking up because you are too hot or too cold;
6) Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation;
7) Limit screen time before bed. No late night TikTok scrolling!
Changing the way we think about sleep and learning all the amazing ways that an extra hour can impact our bodies might just be the first step to changing how you feel and have a significant impact on your health and wellness. Making small changes in your daily routine can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep—and your overall health. So if you're feeling tired during the day or find yourself lying awake at night staring at the ceiling, take some time to learn about the benefits of getting a good night's sleep. Your mind—and body—will thank you for it!