A woman lying in bed asleep

The importance of sleep

When you’re not sleeping well, getting a good night’s rest becomes your top priority. For many of us with sleep problems, thinking about a full unbroken eight hours occupies all our waking moments.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep is vital for both your health and your well-being. When you’re sleeping your body continues to work, supporting how your brain functions and maintaining your physical condition.

Regular good sleep keeps your memory sharp, gives you energy, boosts creativity, focuses your attention, and can assist with your capacity for learning new things. It can also decrease your chances of heart disease, aid weight loss, lower stress levels and combat the symptoms of depression.

Put simply, it can help you both live well and feel well.

What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?

How you feel during the day is all linked to your sleep. Just one night of broken sleep and little rest can have you feeling sluggish as well as reducing your ability to think clearly and do simple everyday tasks like concentrating when you’re driving or contributing at work. You may also feel irritable and have problems getting along with others.

How can lack of sleep affect my health?

Regular lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of health problems.

  • Your immune system relies on sleep to stay strong. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way it responds meaning you’ll struggle to fight infections and will be more susceptible to colds in winter.
  • Sleep is a key part of healing and repairing blood vessels and your heart – lack of sleep can heighten your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Key hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are affected when you don’t sleep well. This can cause a hormone imbalance and heighten your food cravings.
  • Ongoing lack of sleep results in a higher blood sugar level which can increase your chances of diabetes.

How can lack of sleep affect my well-being?

Your brain needs sleep to function properly. When you’re asleep, your brain is getting prepped for the day ahead, assisting with ways to learn, remember information and interact. If you’re experiencing sleep deprivation it can potentially alter how certain parts of your brain operate. This can cause problems with:

  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Controlling your emotions

An ongoing lack of sleep has also been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

How can I tell if I’m experiencing sleep deprivation?

You should know if you’re not getting enough quality sleep simply by your bedtime experience. As well as experiencing the above symptoms, you’ll likely feel lethargic and under prepared for the day ahead when you first get up. You may even experience micro-sleep, whereby you fall asleep during the day without being aware of it. This is very dangerous when driving or doing certain jobs.

Fortunately, with just a few changes to your lifestyle, diet and environment you can boost your chances of the ideal hours under the duvet.

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