The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

There are many different aspects to be considered when it comes to a healthy lifestyle......and the truth is that they are all equally important. In a series of blogs, I want to look at all the different aspects, and talk about the importance each one of them has on our health and wellbeing. Let's have a look today at an aspect that is underestimated by most of us - the aspect of sleep.

We all know the importance of sleep for a new born and young kids.......but what we don't realize very often is that the importance of sleep doesn't just disappear when we are adults. It is just as important when we are adults, and there are number of reasons why (quality) sleep is of such a great importance to our health and wellbeing:

  • brain function - when we are asleep the brain tissues are being repaired, and also the brain gets the needed rest (simply put) to function properly the following day
  • immune system - getting enough sleep regularly helps your immune system stay strong, healthy and fight off colds or infections
  • physical health - according to the National Heart, Lunch and Blood Institute sleep deficiency on a regular basis, might increase the risk of kidney and heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and even stroke
  • weight gain - being sleep deprived might cause you to gain weight. The reason for that is when you don't get enough sleep on regular basis, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase, which in turn increases your appetite during the day and causes you to eat more, which results in gaining weight
  • concentration - when you are tired you have difficult time staying concentrated or being productive during the day
  • irritability / mood -  being sleep deprived might affect your mood, and be easily irritable around other people (that is totally me when I don't get enough sleep!)

Now that we know some of the effects an ongoing sleep deprivation can have on our health and wellbeing, let's see what we can do to make sure that we get enough and quality sleep:

  • just like the babies and small kids, have a wind down routine before you go to bed - get your body used to that routine with the time
  • make your sleep a priority majority of the time. Set a time that you want to be in bed by and try to stick to it
  • eat at least two hours before you go to bed - this way you ensure that your digestive system is not working on high levels when you are trying to fall asleep
  • avoid watching TV (or at any screen) at least 30min before you go to bed - give your brain and senses some rest right before you go to bed
  • don't play video / computer games at least 45min before you go to bed
  • turn off your mobile 30min before you go to bed (something that I for sure need to work on)
  • a lot of times we have all kinds of technical equipment in our sleeping room. Make sure that there are no technical equipment in your sleeping room
  • too many of us go to bed, and start worrying about all the things that need to be done the following day, or other problems - this way of course it is very difficult to fall asleep. Instead think of three to five things that you are grateful and happy for that had happened that day - this way you fall asleep with a relaxed and positive mind
  • make sure that it is dark during the night in your sleeping room

It is recommended that we get eight hours of sleep - I personally believe this is just a guideline, as we are all different and have different needs. Some might need a bit more, and some (like myself) might need a bit less. My advice would be listen to your body, and figure out how many hours of sleep you need a night, and when you feel at your best and most energized. One good technique for that would be to track your sleeping habits and how you feel the following day for a month or so........this is how I personally figured out that I wasn't getting enough sleep, as I was going to bed way too late.

Stay healthy,

Anna

Photo by © Ramona Heim / Fotolia.com

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