We all know the importance of quality sleep. After all, adequate sleep helps to improve our memory, mood and creativity on top of ensuring that our minds and bodies are recharged for the day ahead. Unfortunately, so many of us fail to stick to a healthy sleep pattern for a myriad of different reasons. Today, we have a look at the importance of sleep, how much you should be getting each night and ways in which you combat common sleep disturbances, so read on to find out more!
Sleep 101 – Simplified
Sleep is a complex process that involves and can affect our entire body. When we fall asleep, we cycle through various sleep stages ranging from light sleep, deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Numerous biological processes also happen during sleep: your brain stores new information and gets rid of toxic waste while your nerve cells communicate and reorganise for healthy brain function. Your body also restores energy, repairs cells, and hormones and proteins during sleep.
When you don’t get enough hours each night, your body is unable to successfully cycle through all these stages of sleep in order to adequately restore the function of your body and mind. The result? You struggle to wake up and feel lethargic or even depressed the next day.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
The average adult requires anywhere between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. As we get older, this number decreases slightly, but it’s safe to say that a good night’s sleep includes a minimum of 7 hours of shut-eye. Of course, these figures are just guidelines as each person’s sleep needs vary based on factors such as genetics, daily schedule and activity level. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need more sleep than the guidelines suggest, or on the other hand, you may thrive on less.
Can I Sleep Too Much?
A common question we get asked is if there is such a thing as “sleeping too much” or “is oversleeping bad?”. According to several studies that have been conducted over the last few decades, sleeping too much may actually increase your risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and mood disorders such as anxiety. Furthermore, when you oversleep, you disturb your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which may ironically cause you to feel fatigued throughout the day. Anything more than 9-10 hours per night is considered oversleeping, and if you find yourself struggling with this, we highly recommend consulting your local GP.
Factors That Could Be Keeping You Up At Night
If you struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up feeling fresh, there are quite a few things you can do to ensure that you minimise sleep disturbances, such as:
1. Poor Mattress and/or Pillow
You spend an average of 8 hours on your mattress and pillow each night which equates to over 33% of your entire life. Additionally, allergens such as dust mites that are present on old bedding may even cause runny noses, itchiness, watery eyes and coughing that interrupt your sleep. With that in mind, you can imagine how important it is to ensure that you have a high-quality mattress and pillow that works best for your body type.
Stimulants such as nicotine, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages are notorious for keeping us awake. If you are someone who can’t live without a cup of joe, we highly recommend having your last cup sometime in the early afternoon. Generally, the intake of stimulants should stop a minimum of 6 hours prior to your bedtime, so be sure to monitor what you’re drinking throughout the day for a better night of sleep.
Lastly, one of the most common sleep deterrents is technology. Whether that is your television, computer or smartphone, the blue light emitted by all these devices suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that is responsible for making us drowsy. If you are having trouble getting to sleep, we highly encourage you to refrain from using technology for at least 1 hour prior to your bedtime. Don’t forget to silence your notifications as well so that they don’t accidentally wake you up in the middle of the night!
We hope that this article has given you some insight into the importance of maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. Suppose you find that you are still struggling to get to bed even after implementing changes to your habits and routines. In that case, we highly recommend consulting with your doctor in order to eliminate possible causes such as sleep disorders.