When we are sleeping, our bodies are working hard to repair, restore and rejuvenate to prepare us both mentally and physically for the next day.
If we don’t get enough sleep we feel tired and grumpy the next day. For the odd night that won’t have any major effects, but a pro-longed period of poor sleep can cause a multitude of health implications.
Poor sleep affects one in three of us
One in three of us suffer from a lack of sleep and we often blame stress and work (or work-related stress!) but the reason for our poor slumber is more likely due to our bad sleeping habits.
Most of us need around 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night in order to function properly. Some need more, some less. As a general rule, if you wake up feeling tired and spend the day dreaming of a nap - you probably need more sleep.
People who sleep less than 7 hours per night are 30% more likely to be obese than those who sleep for 9 hours or more. This doesn’t mean we will all get our dream bodies by spending more time in bed, but it does show that sleep plays an important role in our overall health and well-being.
What happens when I don’t sleep well?
Naturally, our body clock synchronises with the 24 hour clock of the Earth’s rotation, adjusting to the light and dark. When our body clock is out of sync and we are tired, our bodies go in to survival mode and our metabolism is affected as it causes changes in the hormones ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (that tells our brain when we are full). Cortisol (the stress hormone) also increases when we don’t get enough sleep which in turn leads to an increased appetite. When we’re tired and hungry, making a healthy dinner is the last thing on our mind and instead we opt for a quick, carbohydrate and fat fuelled meal or a readily available indulgent snack.
This causes further trouble as when we are sleep deprived our body can not process sugars as easily. The mitochondria in our cells that digest food begin to shut down causing sugar to stay in or blood, which, in turn leads to high blood sugar and even diabetes. Our immune system also lacks in efficiency when we are tired, so we may struggle to fight off even the most common infections.
Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to over eat during the day, taking on as many as 385 extra calories. You might think that people who spend more time awake are more active and can burn off these extra calories, but sadly, this is not the case.
What about mental health?
A good sleep doesn’t only allow our bodies to heal, but our brains too. Whilst we are sleeping, our brains are working to store memories from the day as well as create new ideas. A solid night’s sleep helps to de-stress and when we wake up feeling refreshed we generally perform better.
Sleep deprivation can lead to deficits in cognitive functioning such as memory and decision making, and some studies even show a link between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s. Depression and anxiety can also be attributed to inadequate sleep.
What causes poor sleep?
There’s a number of factors that contribute to poor sleep. Health conditions such as sleep apnoea (affecting an estimated 110,000 people in the UK) are one cause, but more often than not, it’s just down to bad sleeping habits.
Bad habits include alcohol intake, caffeine consumption and poor diet as well as using electronic devices close to bedtime and even our night time routine. Fortunately, these are all things that can be tweaked and improved on.
You may have seen in the news recently that the sleep deprived workforce (getting less than 6 hours of slumber per night) costs the UK economy £40billion every year. If their sleep was increased to 6-7 hours, it would save the economy £24billion, so it’s time to make the changes and start sleeping better, saving the economy and becoming healthier in the process!
How can I sleep better?
Improving your quality of sleep isn’t something that will happen overnight, but by making small changes you will notice a big difference. You can try making one tweak each week and gradually building up your sleep health, or you can try to make a few changes at once to see faster results.
Here’s our top tips on how you can get a better night’s sleep:
- Have your last caffeinated drink of the day before 2pm.
It takes 6 hours to halve the amount of caffeine in your body, so avoid the afternoon pick-me up if you want to get to sleep easily.
2. Reduce your alcohol intake - better yet, avoid alcohol altogether.
Consuming 2 glasses of wine has the same effect as losing 2 hours of sleep. So if you want to feel refreshed in the morning, you probably shouldn’t go for that after-work drink in the pub.
3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Make sure to eat 3 meals a day, but try to avoid a large meal before bed as you will struggle to digest. It is recommended to eat 3 hours before you hit the sack.
4. Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.
Turn off your laptops and phones 30 minutes before you climb in to bed as the blue light they emit tricks your body in to thinking it’s daylight.
5. De-stress before bed.
Try some relaxing yoga or meditation. Avoid having an argument with your other half over whose turn it is do to the washing up and prepare yourself for the next day so you can switch off in bed.
6. Invest in your sleep with a quality mattress.
Finding one that is comfortable for you and your partner is a challenge but a poor quality mattress is the number 1 reason for a poor night’s sleep. It’s vital to find one that suits both of you.
These are just a few tweaks you can make to improve your sleep. Download the free Good Sleep Guide for more tips and advice to make this year your healthiest one yet.
We firmly believe that nobody should compromise on sleep. The Tweak mattress offers a dual comfort layer, where you can both choose your desired firmness for your own side of the bed. Start your journey to a better night’s sleep with a Tweak mattress and sleep your way to a healthier you.