Leading busy lifestyles, we don’t tend to take care of ourselves. So, when we think about a ‘Healthy lifestyle’ we all think about exercise and our diet. However, a major factor people tend to over look is SLEEP.
The 2013 Great British Bedtime Report found that 40% of Britons were getting less than the 6-9 hours of nightly sleep recommended by the NHS. (1)
Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of stress, higher blood pressure levels and lower brain function. It makes you less mentally aware and more fatigued, causes you to eat more which can lead to gaining weight and obesity. It’s safe to say your performance will suffer if you aren’t catching enough ZZZs.
We can often neglect sleep by falling into bad habits with the using technology in bed, having a quick look on social media before we sleep and end up spending hours on your phone. Watching TV programmes late into the night. Going to bed late and waking up early.
But whether it’s convenient or not, maintaining our health should come first, before our daily to-do’s, before our work. Why? Because if we aren’t healthy, we can’t be successful, either—at home or at work.
Why is sleep important??
One of the most important functions of sleep may be to provide cells and tissues with the opportunity to recover from the wear and tear of daily life. Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep. (3)
A lack of or poor-quality sleep is linked to increased risk of obesity. It has been shown that poor sleep can inhibit the secretion of the signal hormones ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which indicates when the body is satisfied. This can lead to increased food intake without the compensating energy expenditure. (4)
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, this includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance (5). Sleep improves your immune function and helps fight the common cold.
How to improve sleep??
Creating (and sticking to) a regular schedule certainly helps, by trying to go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Practice a relaxing bedroom routine, could lead to falling asleep quicker, staying asleep longer. EXERCISE can help improve your sleep but also make you less tired through the day. (6)
Limit the caffeine you drink later in the day. Eat less sugary foods and refined carbs and more fibrous whole foods, will make you feel fuller for longer and release your energy slower.
Give yourself time to wind down and clear your head before bed. Make a list before bed of jobs for the next day, to help clear your head. Have set times for work and time for yourself to relax and unwind.
Sleep really is important, it does more than just mark the end of a day. Some of the process our brain and body perform when we sleep are vital for our wellbeing. So next time your sat up late working or binge-watching TV think is this important or should I be supporting my personal wellbeing and getting some sleep?? Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Waltham, Mass. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.” (7)
Next time your reflecting on your lifestyle don’t just think about your diet and exercise also consider your sleep.