Who doesn't love the feeling of a good night’s kip?
Yet, many of us complain either of not getting ENOUGH sleep or good enough QUALITY of sleep to have us springing out of bed like a child on Christmas morning, ready to take on the day.
While sleep is far too complex a topic to sum up in numbers only, being aware of some of the basic statistics about sleep can help you to grasp just how prevalent a problem sleep deprivation is, and how a lack of Z’s can have a much wider impact on your health than you may expect.
- Approximately 10-30% of adults struggle with ‘chronic insomnia’, rising to 30-48% in older adults
- Women are 40% more likely to experience chronic sleep deprivation relative to their male counterparts
- 5 million Brits routinely have less than 5 hours of sleep per night
- Over £40 billion is lost to the economy annually due to sleep deprivation
- In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without.
- According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?
Other than feeling energised and well rested, sleep is CRUCIAL for a number of our bodily processes, including ‘cognitive processing’ (the organising and retaining information), hormonal rebalancing and growth and repair, to name a few.
As physios, we are primarily interested in a hormone called ‘growth hormone’, which gets released into the blood stream during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep to help repair soft tissue structures all around the body. Routine disruption to your sleep cycle therefore, doesn’t just leave you feeling dog-tired; it can also have a significant impact how well you heal from injury, and can adversely affect subsequent pain levels.
WHAT IS GOOD ‘QUALITY’ SLEEP?
The recommended number of sleep hours for the average adult is 7-9 hours, but why is this so universal?
Sleep as a process can be broken down into 4 key stages, with a whole cycle taking approximately 4 hours to complete. For optimal sleep, it is recognised that most people need to complete 2 full sleep cycles per night, ideally undisturbed!
When we consider 3am trips to the bathroom, snoring partners, pets in the bed, late night working, and too much caffeine, that earlier statistic doesn’t appear to be so shocking now does it?
So what can you do to set yourself up for sleep success?...
TOP 5 TIPS FOR A GREAT SLEEP
To set yourself up for a great night sleep, it’s best to think of easy and manageable changes you can make immediately to help your tune into your body and brain clock.
- Set a firm time for sleep and for waking
Setting a firm routine for when you go to bed and when you wake isn’t just for children. Following a set time, across a 7 day week, helps to tune your body and brain clock into a regular rhythm, signalling when it’s time to sleep and when to rise. After some time, this rhythm becomes engrained, making it automatic.
- Check your room temperature
When asleep, our body temperature naturally reduces by 1-2 degrees, therefore ‘overheating’ can be a common cause of sleep disruption. Turning your bedroom temperature down to an optimal 18 degrees avoids disturbance to your sleep by keeping your body temperature more stable.
- Utilise your sense of smell
Certain smells can help to induce sleepiness. Placing calming smells like lavender (pillow spray, essential oils) in the sleep environment / bedroom can help to trick your brain into winding down for sleep.
- Don’t eat at least 2 hours before bed
Ingesting food close to bedtime signals “wakefulness” to the body/brain, as there is now a need for food to be digested. Where possible, have your last mouthful 2-3 hours prior to sleep, which includes milk in coffee/tea.
- The two S’s rule
Your brain makes connections between spaces and activity. Try and utilise the bedroom for the two S’s - sleep and sex only. Where possible, keep laptops, iPads and mobiles out of the bedroom to limit the temptation for late night working/ scrolling.