Why We Sleep & Tips On Getting More ZZZZZ's

It's recommended we sleep for an average of 8 hours a night (between 7 and 9). If we do that, we spend a third of our lives asleep. This may sound like quite a lot but when we consider the amount of work the body does while we're asleep it becomes clear why it’s so important.

poor sleep
  • Restoring neuron connections in our brains

  • Storing memories, building new pathways

  • Repairing cells and muscles

  • Supporting our immune response to kill disease (hence we want to sleep when we’re unwell)

  • Resting our digestive system

  • Detoxifying - our liver and lymphatic system is most active at night

  • Clearing out old cells - which is fundamental to good health and healthy ageing

  • Preparing for the next days’ “fight or flight” response (aka stressors)

The less we sleep, the less these tasks are completed and the more we feel the effects.

As two-thirds of UK adults are reported to suffer from disrupted sleep and a quarter gets no more than 5 hours of sleep a night it’s unsurprising we’re a nation of declining health.

Lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of many different diseases including cardiovascular disease, obesity, hormone imbalances, depression, diabetes type 2 and dementia.

If you’re struggling to sleep or wake and still feel exhausted, here’s some tips to help improve your sleep quality:

1. Increase your exposure to natural day light

It might not always be sunny, but natural light in the morning helps our internal body clock to regulate - improving energy during the day and supporting sleep at night.

2. Exercise but not too close to bedtime

Exercise can reduce the time it takes to drift off as well as the amount of hours we sleep. However, exercise can stimulate alertness and energy so keep it to the morning or early afternoon where possible.

3. Reduce caffeine intake

Black tea, green tea or coffee – it all increases alertness. Aim to keep to 1-2 cups a day and switch to herbal teas and water after lunchtime.