Sleep is important for living a normal life. It’s just as essential to us as breathing, eating and drinking. After a long, stressful day, resting is crucial for our physical health, and it’s a must for our mental health too. Our brain needs to relax on a daily basis to function to its best ability the following day.
With a busy schedule, with work, family, social and other life commitments, many people don’t get the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep a night. A lack of sleep affects our mental state, and it has been demonstrated as being linked to depression and a variety of mental health illnesses.
There is clear evidence that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on emotion and performance over the following days, weeks, months, or even years if it is a continual cycle. The impact of sleep deprivation can affect us massively, significantly impacting our daily life. For example, it can bring about a low mood, anxiety, and irritability. It may even cause us to make mistakes and be forgetful and slower in thinking.
Long term effects could also include continual tiredness, increase in blood pressure and stress hormones, and an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. And a lack of sleep can affect our immune system. People who don’t benefit from quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to become sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. It can also be a factor in how fast you recover if or when you do fall ill, as well as in fighting infectious diseases.
How to get a good night’s sleep
What do you to make sure you get a proper night’s sleep? Do you have a routine that you stick to? There are basic techniques available, but if nothing seems to work for you, your local GP (General Practitioner) will be able to advise on suitable treatments and other methods, as well as giving a medical check-up to indicate any health issues associated with not sleeping.
We’ve all had nights where we lie awake worrying and thinking and our mind is elsewhere. Before bedtime, we need to put things in place to try and wind down, be less stimulated, and relax. We must have the right attitude to prepare for that much needed night’s sleep.
Basic techniques for encouraging sleep include:
Try to sleep and wake at similar times on a daily basis.
A hot bath about 90 minutes before bed could help you fall asleep more quickly. The hot water actually helps change the body’s core temperature so that you go to bed with a lower temperature.
Meditation as a relaxation technique can quiet the mind and body ready for sleep.
Make sure you have a comfortable bed and bedroom. Make sure that noise is minimal, light is low, and the temperature is adapted to your requirements.
Nearer the time you want to sleep, limit the use of stimulants that could raise activities in the body. These could include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Don’t drink too much fluid in the evening. Your body could find it hard to relax when you are trying to sleep or even wake you up in the night when you need to empty your bladder.pix
Avoid going to bed until you are actually ready to sleep, i.e. when you are tired. You don’t want to spend more time in bed lying awake staring at the ceiling rather than actually sleeping.
Getting regular daily exercise during the day is a good way to aid sleep. But exercise releases adrenaline, so exercising during the evening is not recommended.
Avoid those electronic devices for at least an hour before you want to sleep. The bright light on computers, mobile phones and tablets will stimulate your mind and keep you awake longer.