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The importance of getting enough sleep

The importance of getting enough sleep

Is sleep important

Sleep is not just important; it is vital!

Many studies have shown that sleep is essential for proper brain function. But you don't need studies to know this is true, we have all experienced poor sleep at some point, and we can all identify with the following.

Poor sleep

Poor sleep affects our concentration; we have a more challenging time focusing on the task at hand.

Our concentration drifts, and with our lack of attention comes a fall in productivity. It takes far longer to complete the same simple tasks, and complex ones become beyond our grasp. 

With the lack of concentration and dip in productivity, poor cognition soon follows. Cognition: is how we gain knowledge and comprehension. The higher-level functions of the brain which 

Include imagination, language, perception, and planning are all affected by sleep.

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Sleep and emotion

Sleep's role in emotions and its importance in keeping our feelings on an even keel are coming to light. Mental health has links with sleep and sleeps healing effects that encompass our minds and our bodies. A lack of sleep exacerbates depression, and there are links between insomnia and depression. Lack of sleep is a contributing factor in some suicide cases.

Sleep also helps us to perform socially. Lack of sleep will affect our empathy. Social intelligence will suffer, and as a result, so will our social interactions. How many arguments and misunderstandings are due to a poor night's sleep?

Sleep and the body

Sleep is also crucial in more physical ways. Its help in lowering the chances of you suffering a heart attack or stroke is becoming clear. Sleep helps you to regulate your blood pressure. Nature has so many aids to health and wellbeing, and sleep is one of its top medical interventions, and it's free!

Sleep helps in calorie counting. It helps in the regulation of hunger, and that enables you to regulate your weight. Good sleep, or its lack, has been linked to obesity,  and as we will see later, obesity can cause a lack of a good night's sleep. 

How much sleep is enough sleep 

When a toddler, you need a lot more sleep than an adult, but as it's unlikely that babies or toddlers will be reading this, let us focus on those who are into their adult years.

From eighteen years onwards, you need less sleep than in the teen years. In General, and it is a generalisation as people vary so much, you need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. That's solid, uninterrupted sleep.

Think about your routine. When going to work, say you have to set the alarm clock for 6.30 am to start the working day. That means being in bed by 10 pm allows you time to unwind and get in that state of mind to let sleep take over. And that's to get the average amount of sleep required.

Reasons for not getting enough sleep

One of the most obvious reasons for not getting enough sleep is because you have not started the sleep routine early enough to allow enough hours in your day.

Distractions are high on the list of reasons for not getting enough sleep; the mobile phone, late night on the laptop or watching the TV all stimulate the brain and make it hard to switch off and start the sleep cycle. Other things causing a disturbance is another reason for not getting enough sleep. A baby or toddler in the house needs your attention. Pets who decide nighttime is playtime or neighbours with a very different schedule to yours. 

Food can play its part. Too much before bed can leave you being uncomfortable and unable to settle. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is where your airways are restricted, leading to loud snoring as well as micro suffocation. OSA breaks your deep sleep cycle and leads to poor quality sleep. People who are obese are seven times more likely to suffer, and when they do suffer, the symptoms worsen.

How to improve your sleep

There are so many things you can do to improve your night's sleep.

Simply scheduling enough time is a good start. It's easy to overlook simple things or put off fixing them. 

A good sleep routine is essential. Give yourself enough time to calm down and get into the right frame of mind. A milky drink before sleep works for many; it also helps create the routine. Remove distractions off with the phone. Many mobiles will have a night setting that silences notifications and interruptions. Set this for your sleep time and avoid those annoying phone announcements.

The topic of going to sleep being boring has come up, and well, that's the point! If you stimulate your brain, then you will not get to the moment that the body's natural processes can take over and transport you to a place of sleep and dreams.

If you have a noisy mind, there are many ways to help yourself control your mind.

There are relaxing white and pink noise videos that can put you in the right frame of mind. 

Sounds such as birdsong, the sea lapping on the shore or waterfalls will help you focus. You can find some on our naturally relaxing youtube channel. Concentrate on hearing the sea moving. Pick out the song of birds singing in the woods at dawn. Focus on the water cascading over rocks. Let the rhythmic sound transport you to a restful state where sleep can take over.

Sweet dreams!

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