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Sleep

Why is sleep so important 

WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?

We need good sleep to thrive. Sleep is important because it affects our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. The benefits of good sleep can affect every moment of our day and every part of our life. Achieving good sleep is essential to both our activities and to our health. Also, as bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts know, during your sleep is one of the times that your body produces the most growth hormone, therefore the more sleep you get the faster your muscles will heal and recover from exercise.

THE EFFECTS OF SLEEP LOSS

Sleep loss may be associated with significant health problems, such as:

  • Depression: Several studies have shown that sleep loss isn't just a result of mental health problems; it can be a significant risk for the development of depression.

  • Headaches: Headaches can interfere with sleep, but sleep loss can also provoke headaches.

  • Impaired Heart Functioning: People with disrupted sleep schedules, such as shift workers, may be more prone to cardiovascular problems.

Treatment 

Make sure you wind down

Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax:

  • a warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that's ideal for rest

  • writing "to do" lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions

  • relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect

  • relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you

  • reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it

  • there are a number of apps designed to help with sleep. See the NHS Apps Library

  • avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep

If you need more ideas, you can get help and advice from a GP.

The sleepstation website also provides a range of useful articles and resources designed to aid sleep.

Find out More: 

Find a psychological therapies service (England only)

NHS - England link

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm)

Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk

Find out More: 
HOW MUCH SLEEP IS NEEDED?

The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age. Infants generally require about 16 hours a day, while teenagers need about 9 hours on average. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.

However, getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need; while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.

Self - Help 

HOW TO IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY

  • You can improve the quality of your sleep by following these recommendations:

  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep routines. It is important to incorporate time to "wind down" from your daily activities.

  • Minimize light, noise, and temperature extremes in the bedroom.

  • Avoid large meals just before bedtime. Small snacks are not a problem, but large meals keep the digestive system active and can disrupt sleep.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise within two to three hours of bedtime. Strenuous exercise can elevate body temperature and cause difficulty falling asleep at bedtime.

  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants within four hours of bedtime.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU NEED MORE SLEEP?

You know you need more sleep if you:

  • Have trouble concentrating and remembering.

  • Sometimes lose your sense of humor.

  • Work in a stressful environment.

  • Are tempted to doze in boring meetings.

  • Hit the snooze button repeatedly in the morning.

  • Have reduced immunity to disease and viral infections.

  • Feel chilled.

  • Struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

  • Have mood shifts, feel depressed or irritable.

  • Experience weight gain.

  • Fall asleep watching TV.

  • Sleep late on weekends.

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