Importance of Sleep
Did you know that the average person sleeps for about a third of their life? We spend so much time sleeping and yet often give it so little thought. Sleep is such a crucial part of our lives but it is often overlooked as “just another” biological function or need, when in fact it plays an important role in our overall wellbeing and functioning as well as our life expectancy.
Why do we sleep?
Sleep is actually not a passive activity. When we sleep, our body begins the process of rebooting and recovering from the day’s activities. This is the time where the body repairs itself, boosts our immunity, reboots our hormonal system which also assists in de-stressing, consolidates our memories and assists in learning we did for the day amongst many other things.
With all of this in mind you can imagine how sleep deprivation (not getting enough sleep) can affect our health and longevity.
How do we know we are not getting enough sleep? These are the symptoms to look out for: -Sleepiness -Fatigue -Decreased attention span and concentration -Poor memory -Irritability and/or mood swings -Increased appetite (especially cravings for carbohydrates) -Clumsiness and poor decision-making (especially about sleep).
What are the consequences of sleep deprivation? -Increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes -Decreased immunity -Decreased sex drive and increased infertility -Increased risk of colorectal cancer. -Increased risk for dementia and other mental health issues. -Increased risk of occupational and automobile accidents.
Causes of sleep deprivation -Poor sleeping habits -Poor sleeping ergonomics -Blue light from phones and computers -Some conditions such as: stress, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, seizures.
How much should we sleep? The recommended amount of sleep per age group is: -Newborns: 16-18 hours -Preschool-aged children: 11-12 hours -School-aged children: At least 10 hours -Teens: 9-10 hours -Adults 18+ (including the elderly): 9-10 hours
Maintaining healthy sleep habits -Have a set healthy sleeping schedule according to recommended time -Sticking to schedule even during holidays and weekends -Avoid consuming heavy meals 2 hours before sleeping -Avoid using computers or phones right before bed 30 mins to 1 hour before bedtime, instead choose relaxing activities that do not require a lot of brainwork such as meditation, warm baths, relaxation techniques to unwind. -Using the right pillows, mattresses and/or making the necessary adjustments -Should you have any sleep debt try to add an extra hour or two until you catch up and your body returns back to your normal sleeping times.
Please feel free to chat to us should you have any questions or want to know more about this topic.