As we get older, sleep is easily disturbed. A good night’s sleep improves your overall physical and mental health in a number of ways and is as important as eating healthy and exercising. Having healthy sleep habits is referred to as having healthy ‘sleep hygiene’.
A number of studies conducted by researchers and doctors have found that, 7-8 hours is the ideal amount of sleep required for adults. Further, too much or too little sleep are associated with shorter lifespans and a number of health problems.
Getting less sleep can lead to the following health problems:
- High blood pressure and inflammation
- Weight gain and obesity
- An increased risk of developing dementia/the worsening of existing dementia
- Heart disease and higher chances of strokes
- An increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research has found that people who sleep for six or less hours a night, have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than those who get more. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night reduces your levels of stress and allows you to better maintain blood pressure.
Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same part of the brain, therefore “when you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite”, Dr. Rapoport explains. Further, a study conducted at the University of Chicago found that people who were well rested were able to lose more weight when dieting than those that were not well rested.
Doctors have found that sleep deprivation worsens the symptoms of depression. Sleep ensures greater emotional stability and reduces anxiety and negativity.
Type 2 Diabetes
Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. Sleep deficiency results in higher than normal blood sugar levels, potentially increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Tips for better sleep hygiene
- Keeping in-sync with your body’s sleep-wake cycle – Your body’s internal clock requires a routine in order to function correctly. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time throughout the week and avoid sleeping-in on weekends.
- Stop drinking caffeine and alcohol in the afternoons and evenings – Choose teas and calming beverages that will help you unwind and relax.
- Avoid light and screens before bed – Light affects your sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle and is controlled by light exposure. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it is light—making you more alert. Turn off your lights and avoid looking at your phone/television/any screen once you are in bed as they inhibit sleep.
- Stay active/engage in some physical activity during the day – Any activity from walking, golf, yoga or the gym can help promote better sleep hygiene.
- Stop napping during the day – Although power naps may feel re-energizing during the day, they may hinder your sleep at night. Therefore, cut naps out of your routine completely.
- Try relaxation techniques – Deep breathing or warm baths can help induce sleep.
Additionally, there are many apps that are now available to help you fall sleep. Check out “Sleep Digipill“ or “Sleep Well Hypnosis“to help you sleep peacefully.
Vida is a service which harnesses technology and invests in high quality carers to deliver fully managed and personalised live in care in London and Sussex, at a flat rate of £16/hour.