Sleep is one of the best things for our health, and waking up after a fantastic night’s sleep may leave us refreshed, energised and ready for the day.
However, sleep is one of the things which may often be overlooked in today’s society, though there are quite a few surprising advantages of a great night’s sleep. According to sleep specialist Shawn Stevenson, millions of people are chronically sleep-deprived today. He goes on to say that sleep deprivation may result in immune system failure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and memory loss simply to mention a few.
He says that the best time to go to sleep is by 10pm, that’s time that melatonin kicks in for adults and you start to feel sleepy. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep and wake cycles. It’s between 10pm and 2am which you find the highest quality of sleep, and your body repairs itself.
There’s also an economic effect of lack of sleep. The Sleep School (thesleepschool.org), states that “poor sleep prices the economy #40 billion annually”. The Rand Report (2016) looks in detail at the economic effect of too little sleep.
Sleep has been demonstrated to assist with the conversion of short term memories to long-term memories, and help with our level of imagination. Health.com cites that researchers at Harvard University and Boston College discovered “people appear to strengthen the emotional elements of memory during sleep, which might help spur the creative process.”
It also sites a Stanford University study linking 10+ hours a night of sleep with greater performance, more endurance and less daytime fatigue among college football players.
For me personally, it has only been recently that I have actually begun to comprehend the surprising benefits of a great night’s sleep. Before changing my sleeping habits and going to bed much earlier, I discovered, the majority of the time, I’d feel lethargic throughout the day, was always exhausted, and had limited attention.
Going to bed before midnight and having between seven and nine hours sleep average means I now have more energy throughout the day, better focus and I am more productive than before.
Lack of sleep can have a severe impact on our cognitive capabilities, mood and over time may result in chronic conditions from CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) to cancer. Research suggests the optimum quantity of sleep we need daily is 7-10 hours.
So try this for another seven days:
1. Go to bed before midnight and receive at least 7-8 hours of sleep. When you have trouble sleeping at least have the chance to break your body as much as possible in bed.
2. Keep a note within the week of how you are feeling, how you work during the day and how you interact with those around you
3. At the end of the week reflect on what you need to do to improve your pattern of sleep