Sleep. A natural activity that every human has done since birth. Yet why is it that we can find this valuable commodity is something that we are missing out on?
On average, people need 8 hours sleep at night to be fully rested and ready for the day. For some its 6 hours, for others it’s 10 hours; whatever is your optimum amount, it is likely that your sleep has been disturbed or affected at some point, especially if you are feeling busy or stressed. But it is essential that sleep is near the top of your to do list!
Essential for your Mind
Sleep allows your brain to organise the myriad of different events of the day as well as rest and rejuvenate ready for another busy day. But lack of sleep also has further-reaching consequences: not getting enough sleep can cause concentration problems, drowsiness and forgetfulness, not to mention irritability. When we are tired, we are less efficient, less able to cope with change and demands, and more likely to cut corners. As well as feeling groggy and grumpy, we may find that less sleep also makes us less able to commit things to both our long and short term memory and it will affect our creativity too!
Essential for your Appearance
You’ll have heard of the term ‘Beauty Sleep’ – there’s a reason it is given that name! Lack of sleep will leave its evidence in your appearance, causing you to look tired and drawn. Sleep deprivation causes your body to increase the production of steroids, which in turn decreases the production of collagen, which causes skin to thin and wrinkle. All those fancy creams and lotions won’t be able to help if you are consistently burning the midnight oil and depriving your body of much needed rest in order to rejuvenate mentally and physically.
Essential for your Health
Sleep is as important as food and exercise when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Sleep restriction can be the cause of weight gain and obesity. Lack of sleep will mean that your body will crave foods to give it energy and if this is coupled with a less than nutritious diet and perhaps a lack of exercise too, this can leave you sluggish and carrying the extra pounds. But it isn’t just diet that can be affected by reduced rest hours. Links have also been found to more serious conditions such as strokes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and depression. Making sure you get the right sleep will improve your immune function and hopefully help you to avoid illness in the long run.
Rest and Rejuvenation
So what can you do to combat these worrying symptoms of sleep loss? See below for some handy hints and tips for you to beat the eye bags:
- Try to hit that average sleep amount of 8 hours.
For most people, this will be enough to keep you in tip top form, both mentally and physically, but you can be flexible with this if your body needs more or less. You should be waking up feeling refreshed.
- Try to keep a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends!
A regular sleep pattern is essential to encourage healthy sleeping habits and to make sure your body is consistency and regularly getting what it needs. As lovely as lie ins are on a weekend, your body will be much heathier if it has consistency and routine.
- Bedtime routines
It sounds like this is for children, doesn’t it? But having a familiar routine will mean your body knows that it is time to start winding down ready for rest. This might be a nice warm bath before bed, a few pages of a book or your favourite TV programme before you settle down for the night. Try to avoid using a tablet, phone or laptop right before bed time. The blue light emitted from screens has been proven to stimulate the brain and that’s the last thing you want before you settle down to sleep!
- Brain dump!
You’ll know it well: you’ve just clicked off the light, you snuggle down and your breathing starts to slow…but suddenly, your brain starts to work through the different events of the day, the things you need to do tomorrow, the to-do list that you need to work through when you get into the office… Before these thoughts can be given chance to keep you awake, jot them down on a notebook by the bed so that you can relax properly and address them when you wake up in the morning.
- Be sensible about sleep
Often, we can be our own worst enemies in terms of giving ourselves a break, but sleeping isn’t cheating! Learn to say no and have an early night if events are catching up with you. If you are working into the evening, be your own conscientious friend and be sensible about what is achievable and when it is time to call it a night. After all, your short term success and long term health depends on it!