Many of us have busy lifestyles and frequently place less importance on our sleep, cutting back on it to enable us to pack more into our day. It is however important that we recognise just how important a good night’s sleep is.
Regular good quality sleep plays a vital part in maintaining a healthy mind and body. A lack of it can have a negative impact on our mood, brain function and immune system. The majority of our tissue repair and muscle growth takes place whilst we are sleeping. During this time the cells in our bones and muscles set about repairing the damage that occurred to them during the day.
Many studies have linked a lack of sleep with weight gain. Poor sleep disrupts hormones including those that regulate our appetite. It is also likely to make us feel less inclined to exercise and make us crave sugary foods.
Concentration and Productivity
Good quality sleep has frequently been linked with better memory recall and problem solving whilst poor sleep has been linked to impaired brain function.
Just small losses in sleep have shown to negatively impact the immune system. By ensuring you get enough good quality sleep you will stand a better chance of avoiding the common cold.
Depression is strongly linked to poor quality insufficient sleep as is an increased risk of death by suicide. Irritability is also more likely which can have a major impact on our relationships.
A lack of sleep has been strongly linked to inflammation and cell damage as it triggers the body’s inflammatory responses, increasing the risk of disease.
We will be more inclined to withdraw from interaction with others or find ourselves being over sensitive and unable to rationalise what others say and do when our sleep is impaired.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The amount of sleep we need can vary from person to person but it is generally believed that most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. Some people believe that adults do not require as much sleep as this as they get older but there is no strong evidence to support this.
For a good quality sleep consider your sleeping position as it can have a significant impact:-
a) Lying On Your Back – generally considered to be the best position for you to sleep in as it allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position, alleviating any extra pressure on those areas. Take care not to tilt your head. May lead to snoring for some however which can lead to serious health problems.
b) Lying On Your Side – a good position to keep your spine in a neutral. You should try to ensure that your legs are kept in alignment as having them at different lengths can aggravate your hips. Bending your knees slightly and putting a pillow between them is optimal as this will keep your hips in a better position.
c) Lying On Your Stomach – sleeping on your stomach is not advisable as it doesn’t support the natural curve of your spine which can cause overarching, placing pressure on joints and muscles. It forces your neck to be in a rotated, closed pack, tight position,compromising breathing and circulation.