When it comes to our health and wellbeing, sleep is just as important as exercise and eating well. Yet, for many it is not seen as a priority or the benefits of a solid snooze are not known. Around 36% of adults in the UK struggle to sleep on a weekly basis, creating a significant impact on their mental and physical health. The effects of your night time habits on your mental abilities are noticeable – for example, when you’re feeling drowsy, forget things and lose concentration quickly. However, the physical tolls of sleep deprivation can be overlooked, which we are exploring in more detail below. For those of you who struggle to sleep, read on for some tips on how to improve it.
How sleep can help with your health
Poor sleep on a regular basis can have huge impacts on your bodily function. The dark under-eye bags and heavy eyelids may be more obvious, but it is vital for the many different body systems to operate to their full ability.
(a) The Immune System
While you sleep, the production of pathogen-fighting molecules is increased and immune memory is strengthened. Therefore, good sleep can help reduce the risk of illness.
(b) The Digestive System
Without enough sleep your body releases more of the hormone which makes you feel hungry (ghrelin) which could lead to over eating. I think it is safe to say many of us can relate to this – anyone else have a handy snack drawer for such moments? Sleep deprivation can also lower the amount of insulin (which breaks down glucose) released, which could lead to chronic disease such as diabetes mellitus.
(c) The Cardiovascular System
Sleep helps your body repair damaged tissues such as blood vessels and your heart. It can also affect processes which monitor blood pressure, blood sugar levels and inflammation. So to help keep your heart healthy, make sure you get your sleep hours in.
(d) The Endocrine System (hormones)
Hormone production is dependent on your sleep. Interrupted sleep also interrupts the production of hormones such as testosterone and growth hormones. If your hormone system is not healthy, you could have problems during puberty, getting pregnant and managing stress.
With many of our body systems dependent on a good night’s sleep to work properly, it is clear that with a loss of sleep or not sleeping well, your physical wellbeing can be placed at risk. There are a number of methods you can use to help improve the quality of sleep.
How to improve your quality of sleep
Whether it’s unwanted noise, being uncomfortable or stress keeping you awake, there is a way to get better rest.
1. Establish a pattern
Ensure you set boundaries on when you go to sleep and set alarms for 7- 9 hours after falling asleep. Avoid temptation to catch up on lost sleep from the night before as this can ruin your pattern. Soon, your brain will be programmed and establish its own internal body clock (but we recommend you continue to set the alarm!)
2. Winding down
The best ways to relax after a stressful day is unique to you. You may want to read a book, run a bath, do some meditation or listen to relaxing music. Whichever method works for you, be sure to avoid using a smartphone or screen an hour before bed, as the light may have a negative effect on your sleep.
3. Make a sleep-friendly environment
An ideal sleep environment is dark, warm and comfortable. Make sure your bedroom is associated with relaxation and not a place of stress or work. If you work from home, try to avoid having your office space within your bedroom. Install black out curtains/blinds, a comfy mattress and remove any gadgets that may keep you awake.
4. Use earplugs
Our hearing has no off switch. If noise is keeping you awake, such as a snoring partner, busy road nearby or even the sounds of birds in the countryside, then using earplugs is a must. There are many options out there, but for the best choice in terms of comfort and environmentally friendly, you need SnugsZen custom fit sleep plugs.
Designed to fit your exact shape, the plug slots into your ear canal giving the perfect fit and comfort. It also means you get an unrivalled seal, reducing outside noise coming into your ears, quietening the world and allowing you to nod off.
Made from a medical grade soft silicone, they are washable and reusable – a much better option than disposable foam plugs where you only get one use before throwing them away. If you use earplugs daily, the cost of investing in Snugs is soon returned and makes them the cheaper option in the long term too. But when it comes to cost, can you really put a price on a good night’s sleep?