Are you getting enough quality sleep?
Posted by Justine Clarabut on 10 March, 2020
We are regularly told that we should be getting the recommend 8 hours of sleep a night in order to function at our best!
However, over half the world’s population are sleeping less than 7 hours per night according to the 2018 Global Relaxation Report. And the average British adult gets around 34.5 minutes less sleep a night than those in other countries. This adds up 210.2 hours a year – or an incredible 8.76 days*
Getting enough sleep is essential for our wellbeing but sleep is so often not seen as a priority for many people. So many factors can and do affect how much and how well we sleep: stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks, electronic devices such as mobile phones and alarm clocks as well as stress and life pressures.
Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on our mental and physical health.
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke are some of the more serious problems that chronic sleep deprivation can have on our health. Obesity, impaired memory, depression and lack of motivation are also symptomatic of poor sleep. Studies show that the stress hormone cortisol is raised with lack of sleep. This can affect our appearance too as cortisol can break down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth, leading to premature wrinkling and dark under eye circles.
Prioritising not only the quantity, but the quality of sleep, ensures you wake feeling rested, recharged, and ready to conquer the day.
The quality of our sleep refers to how well we sleep. Our brains go through various stages of activity during the night and each sleep stage is important for our health and wellbeing. Deep sleep is essential for feeling rested and staying healthy. The average healthy adult will get around 13% to 23% of deep sleep during an 8 hour sleep. During deep sleep cycles our body completes most of it’s restoring and repairing. This is where our nervous system goes into reset mode. Without sleep the body can’t clear the mental and physical stressors of the day to return to homeostasis. This means your resilience will diminish, not from the amount of stress you’re experiencing, but from your inability to rest and restore.
Signs that your sleep quality needs some improvement: (according to the Sleep Foundation):
- Takes you more than half an hour to fall asleep after getting into bed
- Regularly wake up more than once per night
- Staying awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night
- Spending less than 85 percent of your time in bed asleep
- You’ve been diagnosed as having insomnia
Here are a few ways to improve your sleep and enhance immunity, mood, and energy levels.
- Keep to a bedtime routine or ritual as much as you can. Take a warm bath, read, drink calming herbal tea, meditate or do breathing and relaxation exercises. Avoid engaging in stressful or high energy activities before bed!
- Make sure your bedroom temperature is right for sleep! A room that is too warm, or too cold, interferes with your body’s ability to drift off. The ideal temperature is around 16c.
- Comfortable bedding is essential
- Avoid food and drink stimulants. For example, drinking coffee within 4 to 5 hours of going to bed can prevent falling to sleep.
- Electronic devices switched off at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The light from their screens can alert the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Keep a sleep diary to see if there are certain factors that are affecting your sleep – for example drinking coffee after 2pm or exercising too close to bedtime.
Optimising the time you spend in bed will undoubtedly enhance your mental, physical and emotional fitness.
Wellbeing People deliver a range of workshops and webinars with topics around sleep and relaxation. It is vital that employees are feeling well at work and getting enough quality sleep is the very essence of achieving optimal wellbeing.
References and further reading