We’ve all experienced the short-term benefits of getting a good night’s sleep!
Your mood is improved, you can better focus, and even things that typically annoy you don’t seem as important.
Traffic jam? Just an opportunity to listen to a podcast.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also essential for your long-term health. It’s just as important as diet and exercise.
Sleep is the opportunity for our minds and bodies to rest, rejuvenate and repair.
If that opportunity is taken away, as it so often is in the modern world, it can impact our health.
Just some of the side effects of not getting enough sleep are:
- Weight gain. Studies have shown that people who consistently don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight. There are a few factors at play here, including hormones, motivation to exercise, and people who sleep well tend to consume fewer calories.
- Poor concentration. Not getting enough sleep impacts our ability to concentrate and our overall cognitive function.
- Higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep (less than 7-8 hours per night) are at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Impacts on mood. Sleeping well can improve our sense of wellbeing, and not getting enough sleep is thought to contribute to mental health problems like depression.
- Lowered immune function. For our bodies to be able to fight off infection effectively, they need to be well-rested. If they aren’t, we can be at greater risk of illness.
This all sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? But, luckily, there are a lot of things that you can do to improve your sleep.
Some people swear by natural remedies to help with sleep.
For example, smelling lavender has a soothing effect and is thought to lower blood pressure, which helps with sleep.
In addition, CBD, available from Simply CBD, one of the non-psychoactive compounds found in marijuana, may also help with relaxation.
If you want to try CBD it’s important that you speak with your doctor first, and bear in mind that there isn’t evidence to suggest that CBD definitely helps.
Lifestyle changes can also help you to get better sleep. Some things you can try are:
- Getting more exercise. Exercising regularly is thought to improve sleep quality and has myriad other health benefits. Exercise is particularly beneficial if you go outside because getting enough daylight is essential for good quality sleep.
- Keeping a regular sleep routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even at the weekends, will help you to improve your sleep quality. Our bodies are governed by the circadian rhythm, which tells us when to sleep and when to wake. Sticking to a routine means you have a healthier circadian rhythm, and will enjoy better quality sleep.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine. Both alcohol and caffeine impact sleep. It’s a good idea to stop drinking caffeine by lunchtime and not have any alcohol in the three hours leading up to when you go to bed.
- Limit screen time. The blue light given off by phone and computer screens keeps us awake, so it’s a good idea not to have screens in the bedroom and to cut down on screen use in the hours before bedtime.