Have you ever found it difficult to fall asleep due to an exam the next day? Or maybe you were excited about an upcoming event? Perhaps you just can’t turn your mind off from tasks needed to be completed. Most of us experience sleepless nights, or difficulty falling asleep, but when it is a regular occurrence, it can really take a toll on your health.
Did you know that the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night? Some individuals may require more or less than that. And when it comes to women, they often experience unique sleep challenges and differences compared to men.
The body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, helps regulate sleep and wake cycles and is influenced by factors such as light exposure and melatonin production. But what happens when our circadian rhythm is not working correctly? In this blog we are sharing the negative impacts of lack of sleep, and how to create healthy sleeping habits to improve your overall health.
IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
Sleep is essential for cognitive function, including memory, learning, and problem-solving. When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories and processes information, helping you to retain and recall information better. Getting enough sleep can also help regulate emotions and improve mood. Having a good night’s rest on a consistent basis helps regulate hormones, including those that control hunger and appetite.
Lack of sleep, or Insomnia, is characterized by dissatisfaction with sleep and difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep, along with substantial distress and impairments of daytime functioning.
It is estimated that about 25% of Canadian adults are dissatisfied with their sleep, 10% to 15% report symptoms of insomnia associated with daytime consequences, and 6% to 10% meet criteria for an insomnia disorder. (stats Can)
Chronic sleep deprivation, or consistently getting less sleep than you need, can have negative effects on health, including impaired cognitive function, mood changes, and increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not only your physical health that is affected by sleep. Sleep and mental health are closely related, with poor sleep often contributing to mental health problems, and mental health issues leading to sleep disturbances.
Here is just a small list of complications that could arise with lack of sleep:
Increased risk of chronic diseases – Poor sleep has been linked to a higher risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Mood changes – Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, mood swings, and even depression.
Weakened immune system – Sleep helps support a healthy immune system, and poor sleep can make you more susceptible to illness and infections.
Increased risk of accidents – Drowsiness and fatigue can impair your ability to drive or operate machinery, increasing the risk of accidents.
Increased risk of mental health issues – Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of anxiety disorders and depression.
Identifying the underlying factors contributing to poor sleep habits is an important step in addressing sleep disturbances and promoting better sleep quality.
Some people may experience difficulty sleeping because of stress and anxiety. Before bed habits such as using a phone or computer, or due to lifestyle habits such as poor diet or lack of exercise can also have a negative impact on your sleep. Certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and chronic pain, can also interfere with sleep.
WHAT ARE HEALTHY SLEEPING HABITS?
Healthy sleeping habits, also known as sleep hygiene, are a set of practices that can help you get the most restful and restorative sleep possible. Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being. It’s important to prioritize healthy sleep habits to avoid the dangers of poor sleep.
Looking for some healthy sleep habits to include in your bedtime routine? Try these:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Create a comfortable sleep environment – Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Limit exposure to screens – Avoid using electronic devices such as phones, tablets, and computers in the hour leading up to bedtime, as the blue light can interfere with your natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Wind down before bedtime – Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
- Create healthy pre-bedtime habits – Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime. These substances can interfere with your sleep and lead to restless nights.
- Get regular exercise – Regular physical activity can help improve the quality of your sleep, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can be stimulating.
- Manage stress – Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help manage stress and promote relaxation.
With these healthy practices in place, you may start to notice a big difference in your normal sleep patterns. If you find you have tried adding these sleep practices to your routine, and you are not seeing an improvement, seeking professional help may be the best route to improving your sleepless nights. A counsellor or therapist may be able to provide you with additional tools to assist your sleep.
Sleep provides your body with an opportunity to rest and recover from the day’s activities. During sleep, your body repairs and rejuvenates tissues, including those in your brain, muscles, and organs. Having issues with sleep can lead to many physical and mental health problems. With healthy habits in place, your body and mind can recover enough for you to not only survive each day, but thrive.
If you would like to discuss sleep habits, or general mental health with our team, or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.