We know that people in the UK now get 2 hours less sleep a night than they did 60 years ago, but is it just a coincidence that the prevalence of obesity has also been rising in recent years?
It has now been discovered that people who do not get enough sleep at night are more likely to overeat during the day, taking on as much as 385 extra calories every single day (close to a fifth of the energy needs of a moderately active 30-year-old woman!). It was also found that, although these people are awake for longer, they do not do any more exercise than those who sleep more, so they are taking on the extra calories, without burning them off - a recipe for disaster!
Chronic sleep loss is becoming more and more common, but the good news is, it can be helped. Sleep is linked to calorie intake via the circadian rhythm (our body clock). Naturally, our body clock synchronises to the 24 hour ‘clock’ of the Earth’s rotation, adjusting to the light and dark. It is thought that disturbance to our body clock affects our metabolism as it causes changes in hormones like ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (that tells our brain when we are full).
It’s not just weight that’s affected by a lack of sleep.
When we are asleep, our bodies repair and restore themselves. If we don’t give our bodies this time to rejuvenate we are putting ourselves at risk of becoming overworked and strained, which will make us grumpy, stressed, short tempered and, not to mention raising our chances of type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation can also lead to deficits in cognitive functioning such as memory and decision-making, so if you don’t get enough sleep the night before a big day at work, your work could suffer.
The levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol, becomes higher when we don’t get enough sleep, which in turn leads to an increased appetite. This, along with being tired, can make us look for easy options when it comes to food. You know that making a salad is better for you, but you’re craving something that you think will make you feel better, so all too often we go for the indulgent snacks loaded with carbohydrates and fat. Who wouldn't prefer a chocolate brownie to a bowl of lettuce?
If our bodies are able to burn off these extra calories, it’s not so bad. But, being sleep deprived means we cannot process the sugars as easily. The mitochondria in our cells that digest fuel begin to shut down, so the sugar stays in our blood, leading to high blood sugar levels - which we know can increase our chance of diabetes.
When our bodies are tired, they are tricked in to thinking we are in danger and so go in to survival mode, trying to maintain resources and slowing down our metabolism.
How can you make sure you get enough sleep?
Now that we know the importance of sleep, it’s time to do something about it.
Set yourself a bedtime that’s seven and a half hours before you need to wake up in the morning. Sticking to the same time every night will train your body to naturally wake at the right time without the need for the alarm, and your body clock will adjust to be tired around that same time every night.
Keep a sleep diary. If you have trouble sleeping, keep a diary that you can take to a doctor with records of your bed-time, wake-time, approximate fall asleep time and if you are restless in the night. It is also good to note down things throughout the day such as caffeine intake, exercise completed and whether you consumed alcohol or felt stressed.
Make sleep a priority.
Whether or not you get a good sleep is also determined by your bedroom environment and, in particular, your mattress.
Here’s a few tips:
- Keep your bedroom clean and tidy
- Decorate with cool colours such as blues and greens (they have calming effects)
- Remove electronic devices including TV’s, tablets and phones
- Keep the temperature between 18-21 degrees
- Make sure your mattress is giving you the right support and comfort
So many of us underestimate the importance of our mattress to our sleep routine.
Sharing a bed with a partner can mean that one of us isn’t getting a comfortable, refreshing night’s sleep. We all have different preferences when it comes to comfort. Some of us like a soft mattress to sink into whereas others prefer a firmer feel to give plenty of support, that’s why we designed the Tweak mattress.
We believe nobody should have to 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. To find out more visit www.tweakmattress.com.