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Why is Sleep so Important?

Have you ever been awake at 3.00am in the morning, frustrated, unable to sleep?

A third of adults in developed countries fail to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night (Walker, 2018). The effect of not enough sleep can be catastrophic.

Not only does a lack of sleep affect mood and concentration in the short term, but over time, it increases the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (Walker, 2018).

Sleep may be vital to our wellbeing but getting enough is not always so straightforward.

Poor habits and unsuitable environments can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.

According to the UK’s Sleep Council (2020), “you have no control over what happens when you sleep, but you can control what you do throughout the day to prepare for a better night’s sleep.”

There are several relatively straightforward habits and techniques that can promote better sleep (Walker, 2018):

  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon as it can disrupt REM sleep at night.
  • Create a bedtime routine that could include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, or shower before bedtime to set the scene for sleep.
  • Avoid phones, tablets, and TV immediately before bed, as the light from the digital source can overstimulate the brain.
  • Find the right temperature in your bedroom (not too hot or cold)
  • Lower the light. Reduce the lighting as you prepare for bed.
  • Avoid late-night exercise. Don’t exercise within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid big meals late in the evening. Don’t eat within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Time your caffeine intake as it can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Contrary to what many think, alcohol negatively affects sleep quality.