According to recent research, many people throughout the western world are missing up to a night’s worth of sleep every, single week. It’s not too hard to see why this is happening. We are working later these days, waking up earlier, and are attached to the outside world through our cell phones and tablets – it seems we’re ‘always on,’ essentially.
Yet few of us are aware of the major problems we are storing up for ourselves by not getting enough sleep. And in fact, it’s actually quite a critical issue – a good night’s sleep is comparable in health terms to eating your five a day and sticking to national alcohol intake guidelines. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect if you don’t get enough shuteye, and give you a few suggestions on making things better for yourself in the future.
The impact of lack of sleep
As we discussed in the intro, a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t get enough shuteye over a prolonged period of time, you open yourself up to a higher risk of all kinds of nasty – possibly irreparable – health conditions. You are more likely to suffer from heart disease and failure, as well as irregular heartbeats. You might see your blood pressure go through the roof, opening yourself up to getting a stroke. And lack of sleep can even increase your chances of developing diabetes, as well as a huge array of other health conditions. Finally, there are connections between your state of mind and lack of sleep – if you don’t get enough, you could end up suffering from high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues.
The benefits of a proper night’s sleep
Of course, a healthy, regular sleeping pattern doesn’t just reduce your chance of picking up a nasty health condition – it can also boost your life in a plethora of different ways. You can expect an improved memory – good sleep helps you consolidate everything you have done during the day. It also helps you be more creative, productive and, therefore, successful at work. When you get a good night’s sleep, your body is able to repair its cells more efficiently, too, and your immune system gets a massive boost. And finally, good sleep can also help you with your weight loss plans. Having plenty of rest stimulates the leptin hormone while suppresses the ghrelin hormone – the former makes you feel full, while the latter makes you feel hungry.
Now, let’s have a think about some of the things you can do to improve your sleep pattern and take advantage of all these amazing health benefits.
Establish a proper sleeping routine
Your body has a natural clock that you need to tap into, and it’s an important place to start the process of improving your sleep. The first part of your plan should be to decide on a time of morning that you will wake up, and make sure you stick to it. Then it’s a case of going to bed in the evening when you are feeling tired – if you stick to the same waking time, it will soon become apparent. After a week or so, you should be able to work out the optimum time for going to bed that gives you the best possible night’s sleep. It’s important that you don’t stray too much from these times – even at weekends when you might want to stay up or wake up late. It takes a while to establish a good sleeping pattern, but only a night or two to ruin it.
Watch what you eat and drink
There’s a delicate balance to strike when it comes to food and drink before sleeping. You don’t want to go to bed hungry, of course, or you will wake up a number of times needing to fill your stomach. But at the same time, going to bed on a full stomach can leave you feeling uncomfortable and restless. So, only eat meals a minimum of two hours before bedtime, and watch out for drinking caffeine and alcohol before bed, too. You shouldn’t drink coffee after the mid-afternoon, and although alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it will disrupt you during the night.
Create a relaxing haven
Next, think about your bedroom. Is it a place where you can truly relax or is crammed with clutter, uncomfortable and susceptible to noises from outside? The first step is to remove all the junk and clutter that is making a visual noise, to ensure it doesn’t play on your mind before you go to bed. Next, have a think about your bed – this site suggests your mattress could be stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep, and you also need to think about the quality of your pillows. Do they support your neck properly? Are they causing you allergy problems? Finally, look at reducing the amount of light and noise that comes into your room – perhaps use room-darkening shades and earplugs instead of struggling to sleep with noise and bright lights from outside?
Prepare for sleep
Your state of mind can also have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Staring at the bright lights and screens of smartphones and computers keeps your brain in ‘alert mode’ and make it very difficult to nod off. Try having a bath with some relaxing oils and salts instead of watching TV before bed. Reading books is helpful, too. But the most effective thing you can do in this day and age is turning yourself off completely from the outside world. Stop checking your phone for work emails at ridiculous times of the evening. Try meditating to stop intrusive thoughts keeping you awake at night. And – as we discussed earlier – always stick to the same bedtime routine every day, weekends included.
As you can see, there are huge benefits to getting a better night’s sleep, and it doesn’t take a lot to understand the positive impacts it can have on your life. Healthier, more productive, more creative – the list is a long one. So, why not change your life by getting to grips with your sleep patterns?
***This has been a collaborative post from a contributor and may contain affiliate links***
You guys let me know what you think about sleep deprivation! I’ve been thinking a lot about sleeping habits lately because I’ve had some trouble sleeping, so I’m really excited to be posting this from a contributor because I feel like they’re such great tips! Let me know if you guys have any other amazing tips for getting good sleep at night!