Getting enough sleep is a massive part of our overall health. Try to view sleep as ‘re-charging’ your brain.
It’s not just about feeling tired. Poor sleep affects our physical and mental health. Getting 7-9 hours sleep is the recommended amount.
Stress forms a vicious cycle for sleep. Stress makes it harder to sleep, but not getting enough sleep leads to even more stress.
Enter Lockdown. Financial worries, cancelled plans, loneliness, restlessness, anxiety, low mood, restrictions of freedom, uncertainty about the future….that’s a lot of stress.
There’s things we can do to reduce this stress (see Lockdown Lyf Support), but if we’re struggling to reduce stress, then chances are we won’t be sleeping very well.
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead…”
…Then you’re reducing your lifespan anyway. A lack of sleep affects your immune system.
This can make you more open to developing a whole host of illnesses, like colds and flu, probably Coronavirus, high blood pressure, heart disease, arrythmia (irregular heart beats), diabetes, inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, even cancer.
Sleep deprivation damages the brain.
It makes changes in the hippocampus which reduces memory. This is likely to be because getting no sleep damages neural connections in the brain, making it harder for us to process information the next day, or remember things from the previous day.
Students should take note – Getting enough sleep might be just as important as your revision.
Central Nervous System
The central nervous system is like the big motorway of your body for information. With poor sleep, the signals your brain sends to your body and vice versa are delayed.
This can result in poor concentration, poor learning, lack of coordination, increased risk of accidents, poor mental abilities…
Lack of sleep affects our mental functioning. Severe lack of sleep can actually cause the development of certain psychiatric conditions, but even mild lack of sleep can cause impulsive behaviour, anxiety, depression and paranoia.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep helps us to process memories and information.
Deep sleep (REM sleep) is important for helping the brain to learn new information efficiently.
Thousands of new neural cells and connections in the hippocampus (a part of the brain) are built and restructured during sleep, which helps our cognitive function the next day and in life. This is why you feel terrible after a poor night’s sleep.
Sleep encourages growth hormone, fat metabolism, muscle growth, tissue repair and bone growth.
When you exercise, it’s the sleep afterwards which grows your muscles!
But why do some people struggle to find the ‘off’ switch, and is there anything that can be done without relying on prescription drugs, which might cause us long term harm?
Read ‘Counting Sheep‘ for general sleep tips.
Read ‘Eat for Sleep‘ for food and herbal action.