Why do we sleep?
It’s something we all do every night. Whilst people often associate sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down, it’s actually the opposite. Sleep is actually an active period which our body uses to restore and strengthen.
Throughout the day, our brain cells build connections as a result of the tasks or new experiences that we go through. Whilst we sleep, important connections are strengthened and ones that are unneeded are ‘pruned’ - forgotten about or removed in a sense.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
Whilst having the odd late night won’t do you any damage in the long run, consistently not getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on your cognitive ability.
Short term issues include:
Memory loss: Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information.
Lack of alertness: Missing just 1 and a half hours of sleep can massively affect your alertness.
Mood swings: Moody when tired? There’s a reason for that. Sleep boosts mental wellbeing and people who don’t get enough are proven to be more likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Long term issues include:
Heart disease: Not sleeping properly for a long period of time can contribute to a higher resting heart rate, high blood pressure and a raised level of certain chemicals within the body - all of which can contribute to heart disease in the long run.
Decreased fertility: Bad sleep or continuous distributions in sleep has been shown to decrease fertility in both male and females. The same part of the brain that triggers the sleep-wake hormone also releases triggers the daily release of reproductive hormones.
Weight Gain & Obesity: A continuous lack of sleep triggers higher amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone that can contribute to emotional eating or poor nutritional habits.
How much sleep do we need a night?
In truth is, it varies person to person. Generally speaking, an average adult needs around 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Worryingly, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night according to the National Institutes of Health.
In today’s ‘always on’ society, six or seven hours may sound pretty good but the reality is that it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
How can I sleep better?
Exercise: Both rigorous and light exercise can give your powerful sleep benefits. However, try to finish vigorous workouts at least three hours before bed.
Relaxation techniques: A couple of hours before try and set aside some real ‘me time’ at the end of the day for some deep breathing exercises.
Block out the light: Block out unwanted light that cause an interrupted night’s sleep with the Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask. Luxurious and chic, it’s beautifully crafted from 100% pure mulberry silk and available in a whole host of colours.
Whilst many of us scrimp on getting enough sleep in favour of other priorities, it’s so important to get the amount your body needs if you’re going to perform at your optimum. If you struggle to drop off on a night, try doing some relaxation techniques around 15 minutes before bed. These help to increase the body’s oxygen level, meaning your body has to work less hard to function and will help you drift off more easily.