There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep

Is a good night’s sleep a long sleep? A deep sleep? Can we ‘catch up’ with our sleep? Modern day life is attacking our sleep like never before. Exposure to blue light, higher alcohol and caffeine consumption and stress are all guilty culprits in disrupting our daily rest, making it harder to not only fall to sleep, but achieve sleep of a decent quality.

Why is sleep important?

As we sleep, our body repairs muscles, replenishes energy stores and releases hormones that regulate growth and appetite, while our minds organise and store the memories of the day before. It is important that we get enough sleep so that these functions can be completed. Sleep also needs to be uninterrupted and of a high enough quality. Without decent sleep, our bodies do not fully regenerate and repair.

Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes and above all can shorten your life expectancy. However, regular quality sleep can boost immunity, help aid weight loss, improve mental wellbeing, increase sex drive, ward off heart disease and increase fertility.

Mistakes that could be costing your quality of sleep.

‘Catching up’ on sleep is also a method that many of us use to try and ensure enough sleep. However, using the weekends to compensate for lack of rest during the week can actually cause a phenomenon called ‘social jet-lag’. An extra-long lie-in disrupts our ‘Circadian Rhythm’ which is essential our Sleep/wake cycle. Our Circadian Rhythm tells our body when we’re tired and when we should be alert. Sleeping in at the weekends disrupts this, confusing our sleep/wake cycles and thus makes us feel groggy come Monday morning. We then spend the rest of the week trying to regulate our Circadian Rhythm, making us feel ‘Jet-lagged’ and out of sync. This doesn’t mean completely saying goodbye to your weekend lie-in, but it shouldn’t be more than two hours past your regular wake up time.

It’s not uncommon to have a glass of wine before bed as its sedative properties make it incredibly tempting to use as a vice to help us sleep. However, alcohol inhibits the functions that need to happen as you sleep from being completed properly. Your body is focused on breaking down and ‘dealing’ with the alcohol, so does not have the energy to deal with the functions that your body should be doing as you sleep. So although you might feel like you’ve had a ‘deep sleep’ your body does not.

Through our phones, we are frequently exposed to blue light. This mimics daylight and inhibits the development of our sleep hormone melatonin. Using your phone in the dark confuses your body and although you think it might help you sleep, the sleep you have will be disrupted as you probably won’t have produced the optimum amount of melatonin. We can filter out blue light using a blue light protector or switching our phone into night mode, but the best thing to do is to switch it off completely before you turn out your lights.

Getting a good night’s sleep is becoming more and more challenging but we should equate our sleep and prioritise it like we do exercise and diet. Sleep is integral to our health and neglecting it can have a negative on almost everything we do. Prioritising sleep and ensuring a good, consistent bed time routine is the best piece of advice for a good night’s sleep. Your body will adjust to these queues set and learn when it needs to rest, allowing you to dream the night away.

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