How important is sleep? Are we getting enough as a nation? Do we take sleep seriously enough? We’re exploring the importance of sleep in today’s blog post. On average, adults need around eight hours of sleep per night – some need a bit more, some a bit less. That is not new news. However, a recent survey revealed 1/3 of people in the UK are sleeping less than before the pandemic.
Finding out how much sleep your body needs is an excellent way to make sure you’re getting enough rest for your body to function properly and effectively. It’s easy to forget about sleep and push it to one side when we’re busy or stressed. But, skipping or reducing sleep has negative effects on our bodies and can cause more damage than we know.
Why is sleep important?
Lack of sleep can affect all aspects of our lives, including our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. One bad night of sleep here and there won’t have any significant effects on you. However, if you’re regularly missing out on sleep, you may become sleep-deprived, which can have long-term effects on your health, personal and work life.
How does sleep affect my health?
Sleep plays a key role in keeping our bodies healthy. Good sleep quality offers many health benefits, including; preventing diabetes and heart disease, increasing your life expectancy, helping with weight management, and improving mental well-being and immune system - if you’re constantly suffering from colds and flu, you may not be getting enough sleep. What’s more, a lack of sleep can increase the chances of getting into fatigue-related accidents, such as falls and, more severely, fatal car accidents.
How does sleep affect my personal life?
A lack of sleep can also impact your personal life. Sleep deprivation causes you to feel irritable and easily agitated, which can affect your personal relationships and cause you to be less sociable. Those who do not get enough sleep may also experience a decrease in their sex drive and this may have an impact on your relationship with your partner. Sleep is also vital to your fertility, which can decrease based on your sleep quality. Therefore, if you are not sleeping enough, you may struggle to conceive, which is a huge disruption if you are trying to start a family.
How does sleep affect my work life?
Tiredness and a lack of sleep can make it harder to focus and concentrate on tasks, meaning not only can the quality of your work be affected but also the amount of time it takes you to complete tasks, lowering your productivity levels. Sleep deprivation can also have an impact on your creativity. If you work in a creative industry, then lack of sleep may be making it harder for you to come up with new ideas.
What can I do to take my sleep seriously?
If you’re struggling with your sleep, it’s important to remember that fixing sleep quality won’t happen overnight – no pun intended.
Here are a few easy ways to get started:
- Setting up a sleep schedule – set aside enough time to sleep and try and get to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Reducing caffeine and alcohol – both of these can have a negative effect on sleep habits.
- Reducing screen time before bed – overwhelming ourselves with content and straining our eyes with blue light can disrupt our sleep.
- Making sure your sleep environment is comfortable - invest in your space; the right bed, mattress, bedding and curtains can help us to unwind and get quality sleep.
More tips for sleeping:
- Watch: Matt Walker: Sleep is your superpower | TED Talk - he’s a brain and sleep scientist, author and podcaster.
- Listen: Calm Sleep Stories – a perfect way to unwind before bed.