Sleep is for the Strong
We all know how it feels to have too little sleep after a late night or a disturbed slumber of tossing and turning, waking to the unwelcome and seemingly too-soon sound of the alarm clock, with the remainder of the day a blur of caffeine, sugar and an overwhelming desire to nap. But why does a bad night’s sleep affect us so much, and what are the benefits of getting enough shut eye? Read on to find out more.
Sleep is essential and getting enough is important for both our physical and emotional wellbeing. If you’re struggling to drop off at night, it could be that you need to adjust your routine, allowing yourself extra wind-down time, turning off devices an hour or two before bed, writing down anything that’s worrying you, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and forgoing afternoon naps.
Getting enough sleep gives us the tools to get through the next day, providing us with energy, improving our concentration levels, reaction times, risk assessment abilities and attention span. Without these skills, we are taking risks when driving, operating machinery and even when making decisions.
Your mind will thank you for getting your eight hours; during sleep it will organise your memories, repair, rebuild and process everything that has happened throughout the day, often giving more clarity when you wake in the morning. Stress levels are significantly reduced after sleep, as it keeps ‘stress hormones’ at bay, relaxing the systems responsible for stress response.
It’s a fact that not getting enough sleep can result in unwanted weight gain, as your body will require more energy to stay awake longer. Sleep-deprivation often has us reaching for high-calorie ‘quick-fix’ foods, such as sugary snacks, and a lack of sleep has been cited in studies as affecting the hormones that signal hunger, making us feel as though we need to eat when we don’t.
Our body’s immunity is strengthened after a good night’s sleep, as this is the time in which our body repairs itself. The immune system is supported by sleep, giving it the right cells and proteins to fight off illness.