The Virtues of Sleep on Wellbeing
How much sleep do we really need and how does this affect our emotional wellbeing? I was lucky enough to attend an Emotional Wellbeing Speaker Event which discussed sleep and its effects on our health, our work and our mood. Before we go any further here are a few interesting sleep facts:· Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
· Exercising regularly generally makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to a greater depth of sleep. However, exercising sporadically or just before going to bed will make falling asleep more of a challenge.
· Divorced, widowed and separated people report increased insomnia.
· Caffeine is said to be the most popular drug in the world and caffeine inhibits sleep.
· We naturally feel tired at least twice during the day: about 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM. This corresponds with the natural dip in alertness primarily responsible for the post-lunch dip.
· Sleep is equally as important as diet and exercise.
· There are individual differences in the need to nap. Some adults and children need to nap. However, the majority of teenagers probably nap in the afternoon because they are not sleeping enough at night.
· People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have larger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
· 40.6 million, of adults in America sleep six hours or less a day and around 90 million Americans snore.
· The three main reasons for snoring are: being overweight, smoking and consuming alcohol.
· The louder you snore, the more likely you are to be overweight. The more overweight you are the more likely you are to resemble a pneumatic drill.
The above facts come from the National sleep foundation and the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association.
With nearly a third of the British and American population suffering from insomnia, it is apparent how quickly a sleep problem becomes an awake problem. The surge in sleep disorders has resulted in a decline in both mental and physical health. What’s more, a lack of sleep affects relationships, the state of wellbeing and concentration.
The demands of modern society play a key role in the surge of sleep disorder cases. With work hours increasing, multiple demands from electronic devices and general over- stimulation, is it any surprise that the outcome is stress?
The health risks from a lack of sleep include gaining weight, increased blood pressure and cardio-vascular problems. With continued sleep deprivation the immune system becomes less resistant, the pain threshold is reduced and there is an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition a lack of sleep brings on early signs of aging – I know!
SLEEP PROBLEM-> HEALTH PROBLEM -> EMOTIONAL PROBLEM -> WORK PROBLEM
What is the solution? Well, to get more sleep there are a number of approaches. First develop a regular sleep schedule. Invest in a good quality and comfortable bed. Avoid being hungry before going to bed and do not drink too much water. Ideally do not have caffeine four hours before sleep.
It is better not to take smart phones or electronic devices to bed because they emit a blue light which inhibit melatonin which then impedes the ability to sleep. Whether we like it or not, the truth is that pets in the bedroom disrupt sleep, so put yourself first and put the pet in its own bed.
Develop pre-sleep relaxation techniques such as mindfulness (there will be a blog specifically on this) where you mentally focus on each part of the body starting at the feet and imagine the body part relaxing before moving up the body to the top of the head. There is also a breathing technique where you pay attention to your breathing and count backwards from one hundred with each breath.
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