Are you getting enough sleep?

Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep is essential for a persons health and wellbeing. Most people can relate to the effect a poor nights sleep can have on their mood, energy and enjoyment the following day and yet the modern world does not lend itself to switching off and clocking up the night time hours. Recent research into the effects of sleep deprivation however have revealed some startling facts that should really have us all prioritising good quality sleep.

Effects on the brain

A lack of sleep prevents the brain from its ability to make new memories. The ‘inbox’ that stores information received during your waking hours shuts down thereby rejecting or bouncing back anything trying to get in there. Without receiving the info, the inbox cannot store it as a memory and you’re left experiencing what feels like amnesia.

On top of this, the lack of sleep causes a build up of the toxic protein beta amyloid which is strongly linked to Alzheimers. When our body’s are sleeping, our brains act like sewage systems, removing toxic by products from our waking moments so that we can function again the next day. Beta Amyloid is a toxic by-product and if the sewage system isn’t allowed to operate properly, that by-product does not get cleaned away.

Effects on the body

It’s not just the brain that suffers with sleep deprivation but your whole body. For men, their reproductive system is compromised with research showing that 5 hours sleep a night can age a mans testosterone levels by a decade. For both men and women, a 4-5 hour sleep can cause a 70% reduction in anti-cancer fighting immune cells. The link between sleep and certain cancers is considered to be so important that the World Health Organisation has decided to classify work involving night shifts as a ‘probable carcinogen’. And lets not forget the heart. Our cardiovascular system loves a good nights sleep. Without it, our blood pressure rises and the risk of fatal heart attacks increases. It’s no coincidence that the number of fatal heart attacks increases by 24% the day after we loose an hours sleep when the clocks go forward in spring.

What’s the answer?

To repair the damage caused to our bodies from being awake, we need 8 hours every night.

  • Consider your environment – is it helping you to rest or hindering your good nights sleep?
  • Consider your diet – if you are eating and drinking alcohol or caffeine late at night, chances are your sleep will be affected.
  • Consider your work – have you left your work at the work place, or have you brought it do bed with you? If you are ruminating on stressful issues at work, chances are you are finding it difficult to sleep.
  • Learn strategies and ways in which you can park work where it belongs so that you can get that all important good nights sleep.