With many of us working long hours and juggling our careers with childcare and other commitments, it’s easy to let a good night’s sleep take a back seat, and instead to push on into the night, finishing a report, getting some cleaning done, or indulging in some quality phone scrolling. However, the impact of not getting enough sleep is profound and can take its toll mentally and physically. Here’s why you need to prioritize creating some healthy sleep habits starting tonight.
Immune System Boost
The recommended amount of nightly sleep is around eight hours; getting in this amount can help optimize your immune system, leaving you better able to fight off bugs and viruses. This is believed to be due to the fact that, while we sleep, our bodies produce increased amounts of specific T-cells and Cytokines, which are essential components of a properly working immune system; sleep deprivation, long-term, disrupts this function, meaning that how the body responds to threats changes, leaving it more vulnerable to infection.
Persistent poor sleep has also been linked to underlying inflammation that is manifested throughout the entire body, which can exacerbate the symptoms of any existing medical condition.
Protects Against Diabetes and Heart Disease
Medical studies have consistently shown that those who get five hours or less of sleep a night are at a significantly greater risk of developing type two diabetes. It is thought that this is due to the effect that insufficient sleep has on the way the body processes glucose, which provides energy.
Regularly getting a good night’s sleep can also guard against the development of heart disease; those who frequently don’t sleep well are much more prone to suffer from an increased heart rate and high blood pressure, conditions that can put extra strain on the cardiovascular system.
Improving your nightly sleep, therefore, could have life-changing benefits to your health; there are many ways that you can go about improving your sleep hygiene, but one of the easiest ways is to ensure that the mattress you are sleeping on is the best for you. Many of us are using mattresses that are either years past their best or that are simply ill-suited to our needs. Have a look at this review of a mattress that is specifically beneficial for athletes – for those who undertake regular, intensive physical exercise the support and cushioning offered by this option could make a huge difference to the body’s ability to repair muscle whilst also promoting a great night’s sleep. This is just one example of how mattresses can now cater to a user’s specific needs to optimize healthy sleep.
Boosts Cognitive Capacity
Those suffering from poor sleep or sleep deprivation consistently report a decrease in cognitive capacity, which includes impairment to memory and the ability to learn new things. It is thought that much of the ‘laying down’ and storing of memories happens while we sleep, which is why memory function particularly suffers if we are not getting enough shut-eye per night.
A marked decrease in the ability to concentrate is also associated with poor sleep habits too. Regularly getting quality shut-eye, however, not only enhances cognitive capacity but increases reaction time, too; this is probably due to the fact that the neurons in our brains use the time we spend sleeping to repair themselves, leading to optimized performance. A study conducted with university students determined that those who had consistently poor nightly sleep were more likely to tackle less challenging problems than their well-rested counterparts.
Supports Good Mental Health
Mental health can be one of the first things to suffer during a period of not getting enough sleep. A single night of poor sleep can leave us feeling irritable and overly emotional and, when this situation persists over an extended period, can leave us much more likely to develop depression or anxiety. Everyday decision-making can also be profoundly affected, which can make these conditions worse.
A recent survey determined that those surveyed who were suffering from anxiety and/or depression disorders were sleeping less than six hours a night on average.
Beneficial To Sex Drive And Fertility
Research has also linked a consistent lack of sleep with decreased libido in both men and women. Fertility is affected too (again, in both men and women), and this is believed to be a result of the disruption caused by insufficient sleep on the hormones in the body that directly impact fertility.
How To Clean Up Your Sleep Habits
Ok, so now we’ve established just how vital a good night’s sleep is for the proper running of just about every function of our bodies, brains, and minds…how can we ensure we’re regularly getting in the recommended eight hours?
Sorting out your mattress, as mentioned above, is a great first step. Assess whether it meets your needs or is hindering your ability to get top qualities zzzzs. If you decide to purchase a new one, take some time to research the options to make sure you get the mattress that’s perfect for you.
Next, consider your bedroom in general. Think of this room as your sleep sanctuary, and treat it as such: arrange it in such a way to promote relaxation and healthy sleep patterns. Having a major declutter, paying careful attention to the surfaces of bedside tables and dressing tables is a great idea to help create a peaceful retreat from the outside world.
Banish devices (I know, it’s hard but so important) to prevent the blue light from interfering with your sleep patterns, and invest in some blackout blinds if the long nights of summer tend to keep you awake.
Finally, establishing and maintaining a sleep routine will pay dividends in improving the quality of your nightly shut-eye. Get into the habit of going to bed at a set time (even on the weekends, if you possibly can) and performing the same actions every night in preparation for sleep; this could be as simple as having a bath and reading in bed for ten minutes, or meditating for a short time before turning out the bedside light. The important thing with these rituals is that they both relax your mind and prepare your body for sleep and also send a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to hit the hay.
With consistency, you will find that a sleep routine will quickly result in you being able to drop off to sleep quicker and that you will experience better quality sleep. Establishing healthy sleep habits is one of the simplest things you can do in 2023 that will make a profound difference to your physical and mental health and general wellness.