Getting a decent night’s sleep is key to functioning our best.
From how we handle personal relationships to how we deal with issues at work, sleep is critical to our emotional and physical health.
Here, we’ll explore the effect of poor rest on our wellbeing and how greater consideration of our sleep leads to improved well-being.
How Poor Sleep Affects Our Mental Health
You’ve probably already noticed that a bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling short-tempered and unprepared for the day ahead.
According to the Mental Health Organization, approximately a third of people suffer from a sleep-related issue, which can raise the risk of developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Sleep and emotional well-being are connected.
In fact, neurochemistry research indicates that quality sleep improves our mental stability.
Additionally, the opposite is also true, and lack of sleep can cause low moods and emotional insecurity.
Chronic sleep deprivation means our brains are unable to cleanse themselves of the toxins that build up during the day, and that our bodies aren’t spending enough time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
REM is the timeframe that helps learning, memory, and emotional resilience—so getting less-than-adequate REM sleep can leave you unprepared to cope with day-to-day problems that may arise.
Similarly, disrupted sleep negatively affects our levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, which can lead to impaired thinking and impact on how we handle emotions.
What’s more, cortisol (a stress hormone) levels can rise with poor sleep.
Poor sleep also leads to increased activity in the amygdala (associated with bad emotions, affecting how our brains monitor and control sadness and anger.
Lack of sleep can harm our self-esteem, energy levels, and ability to cope with everyday life.
How Sleep Harms Us Physically
Not only can poor sleep cause emotional disorders, but it can also harm our physical well-being.
According to BUPA, sleep deprivation might elevate the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
Sleeplessness can also lead to diabetes, as it influences insulin regulation, which controls our blood sugar levels.
Not getting adequate sleep might cause weight gain—many studies have found a link between poor sleep and piling on the pounds.
For example, the lack of rest is suggested to negatively impact the two hunger hormones, leptin, and ghrelin.
These regulate how hungry we feel and are disrupted when we don’t sleep enough, which can cause us to eat more than we need.
Another physical impact of poor sleep is a weakened immune system, as not getting enough rest is believed to diminish the body’s ability to fight viruses.
Clearly, it’s important to sleep well and luckily, it’s quite easy to make small changes for a better night’s rest.
Improving well-being with good sleep
Keen to enhance how well you sleep and for how long?
Here are a few ways:
Blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and televisions tricks our brains into staying active when it’s time to rest.
It does this by decreasing the rate by which our brains emit melatonin, a sleep-enhancing hormone.
If you need help falling asleep, avoid using these devices at least an hour before bedtime.
The first step to an ideal sleeping environment is to buy a quality mattress from a reputable retailer.
Consider how you sleep (such as on your front, side or back), and choose the best mattress to accommodate your needs.
Choosing a mattress based on your sleep style helps you get comfortable rest and prevents aches and pains.
Look around your bedroom.
Is there anything in it that may be disrupting your sleep?
Consider noise and light distractions, as well as ambient temperature.
A bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is believed to be the ideal temperature range to help us sleep.
Your ability to relax coincides with your quality of rest, which is why an untidy room is likely to keep you awake.
If your room doesn’t feel comfortable and organized, it won’t support the best sleep.
Food and drink
Avoid sugar and caffeine around three hours before bed for a good night’s sleep.
We also suggest avoiding large meals late at night.
Eating too much before bed will trigger your digestive system, which is not conducive to falling asleep.
Make a sleep journal and record how well and for how long you sleep each night; this will help you determine what events might be causing you difficulty falling asleep.
Get into a ‘sleep ritual’ whereby you have a bath, read a book, listen to calming music, do Pilates, or carry out another sleep-enhancing activity that prepares your brain for slumber.
Sleep’s importance in our health may seem obvious, but it is easily neglected.
Be sure to give a good night’s sleep the consideration it deserves and don’t let yourself compromise time spent snoozing.