The short answer here is probably no… I would estimate 80% of people reading this right now are under slept! As a working adult the recommended sleep requirement is around 8 hours. Can you actually remember the last time you got a solid 8 hours sleep? Because I certainly can’t! I average 6.5 – 7 hours of sleep a night and trust me I am feeling it by Friday afternoon!
The benefits of getting enough sleep stretch far beyond banishing the dark circles under your eyes… it is ESSENTIAL to your health; both mentally and physically. Pretty much 99.9% of us are grumpy individuals when we don’t have enough sleep, not to mention our attention span diminishes to that of a two year old; you become irritable, irrational and unproductive.
Why is sleep so important?
1. HELPS TO REDUCE STRESS: When you’re functioning on a lack of sleep your body can enter a chronic state of stress. Several of my previous blogs highlight how detrimental too much stress can be to our health and wellbeing. Too much stress releases cortisol (stress hormone) constantly which can contribute to chronic disease such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease; curb weight loss results and leave you feeling generally run down and emotional. A good nights sleep allows your brain to switch off and lets your body recover and rejuvenate.
2.MAKES US MORE ACTIVE. There is nothing quite like waking from a good night’s sleep ready to seize the day ahead. A deep slumber will improve your energy levels and increase your mental awareness; you will be more productive at work and be better prepared to tackle tricky mental challenges that a tired un-rested mind would otherwise struggle with!
3. IMPROVES OUR MOOD:
Two things tend to make me grumpy… being hungry and being tired! Lack of sleep can leave even the happiest of people feeling over emotional, irritable and unusually cranky. More and more research
is coming out about how lack of sleep can be linked to mood disorders including depression and anxiety.
4. IMPROVES MEMORY: Scientists are still not really sure why exactly we dream. Some people get their dreams analyzed but we all know deep down there is often no explanation for why we dream about certain things. What we do know is that sleep boosts what is referred to as memory consolidation. As we go about our days doing 100 and 1 things at once our brains are absorbing EVERYTHING that we do, see, think etc. When we sleep the brain continues to work away processing these emotions, thoughts and experiences. Ever heard the expression ‘sleep on it’ when you are facing a big decision in your life… this is where this comes from. Sleeping shapes our memories and thoughts allowing us to make better sense of it all in the morning.
5. AFFECTS OUR HEALTH: Lack of sleep has been linked to cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and also associated with build up of chronic inflammation in the body which can play a role in chronic disease. Keep your ticker in check by getting AT LEAST 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
6. AFFECTS OUR WEIGHT: Have you ever had a restless or sleepless night and the following day nothing you ate satisfied you.. (some late Saturday nights spring to mind here!) Getting adequate shut eye helps to regulate several hormones within the body including Ghrelin and Leptin which are our hungry hormones.. Lack of sleep drives our leptin levels down meaning you won’t feel as satisfied after you eat. It also causes ghrelin levels to rise stimulating your appetite and making you more hungry. Sleep more, weigh less… I could deal with that!
These are just a few of the reasons why we spend almost a quarter of our lives asleep! Hit the hay a little earlier for a healthier, happier life!