Sounds familiar? Your alarm goes off after a poor night’s sleep and you drag yourself out of bed with no enthusiasm for the day ahead. Is this really what you want in the morning?
A poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling tired, fed up, irritable and unable to concentrate or think clearly. You might feel you need a caffeine or sugar hit, and all you really want to do is crawl back under your duvet.
Remember what it feels like if you’ve had a proper night’s sleep: nine hours of great sleep can see you full of the joys of spring ready for anything that comes your way. But when you’ve got too much to think about, it can be difficult to switch off and get a decent night’s sleep.
Why is sleep so important? Well, let’s see:
1. Sleep helps with weight loss! Really?
Not getting enough rest can make it more difficult to control your appetite so might lead to unwanted weight gain. If you’re not getting the sleep you need, your body will need more energy because it’s awake for longer. You could be more likely to choose unhealthy foods for a quick fix (like those high in sugar, which definitely won’t help with weight loss), and to overeat, particularly later in the day. So sleep is really important in regulating how your body uses food for energy. So yes, getting enough rest could really help you to control your weight!
2. Improves your attention and concentration
It’s quite easy to figure out that getting a good night’s sleep can prevent your your energy dropping. But plenty of rest can also help to keep your mind from wandering and maintain your focus throughout the day.
Not sleeping properly could impair your concentration, logical thinking, risk assessment and reaction times. What if you have a big decision to make, or you are driving, or using heavy machinery? So getting plenty of sleep can help you to stay sharp and focused all day long – and possibly prevent bad decisions or even accidents.
3. Sleep will let your brain do its thing….naturally.
We know that rest allows your body to rest, repair and rebuild itself, but it does the same for your mind too. As you sleep, your brain begins to organise and process all the information you’ve taken on during the day. It converts your short-term memories into long-term memories. Have you ever thought long and hard about something, but been unable to decide. Then you wake up the next day and everything seems clear? Sleep allows you to process your thoughts without distraction, and you can often see things more clearly.
4. Keeps your heart healthy.
A lack of sleep or waking up too often can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease. When you wake up, it is is thought that your sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This system is responsible for your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response which is how your body physically reacts when it senses danger. This also links to your cardiovascular system and increases your blood pressure to prepare you for waking up. Staying awake, or waking too often may lead to a rise in blood pressure and your this may stay higher than expected. High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease.
Poor sleep has also been linked to poor insulin regulation and resistance. If you’re not getting enough rest, your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar may be affected. If the levels of sugar in your blood increase, this can cause diabetes. So getting enough sleep is really important if you want to look after your cardiovascular health.
5. Good sleep helps protect your immune system.
Getting a good night’s rest can help to keep your immune system fighting fit and keep germs at bay. Following on from point 3, sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair itself. This explains why you feel tired and want to sleep more when you’re not feeling very well. Sleep supports your immune system to deal with ailments like like the common cold. It also helps these cells to remember these nasties, so if you come across the same bugs and germs again, you’re ready to fight them off. So a good night’s sleep helps to strengthen your body’s immune response, and it’s essential to allow yourself time to rest and recover when you’re not feeling at your best.
6. Look after your mental and emotional health.
Not only is sleep important when looking after your physical health, but it plays an important role in looking after your mental health too. Going over things in your head can often keep you awake at night and a lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down or low. Try to avoid a vicious circle of anxiety and poor sleeping patterns. Try practising mindfulness or putting pen to paper and jotting things down in a diary before bed. This could help put those thoughts to one side and help you to get to sleep.
7. Reduce your negative stress levels.
There are lots of things that can cause stress, such as work, relationships, financial matters or health issues and everybody deals with it differently. When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases ‘stress hormones’, such as cortisol, which can keep you awake. But a good night’s sleep can reverse this effect and go a long way to restoring a good sleeping pattern.
8. Maintain good relationships….and maybe get a promotion at work!
We all know that a bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling grumpy or miserable. So making sure you get enough good sleep can really help you feel more positive. Everyone around you will notice this: your loved ones, friends and work colleagues. Positivity breeds positivity. Who knows where that will lead!