We all know the feeling of a bad night’s sleep. You wake up tired, grumpy, it even affects your hunger hormones, so you overeat. But as well as having some pretty awful short-term effects, it’s extremely bad for health in the long term too. Lack of sleep over time can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, type two diabetes and really do a number to your mental health too. If you’re already susceptible or suffering from conditions like anxiety and depression having no sleep will make everything feel so much worse. There are a number of reasons our bodies need sleep, it allows us to synthesize hormones, grow muscle, and repair tissue, plus it restores our cognitive functions.
Types of Sleep
During the night our bodies cycle through different stages of sleep. There’s light sleep, this generally takes up more than half the night. Light sleep doesn’t mean weak sleep, this is the stage where we process memories and emotions, and the metabolism regulates itself. The next stage is deep sleep, during this stage of sleep, we’re less responsive to external stimuli. If you wake up during this stage, it’s likely you will feel groggy and even a little confused at first. Deep sleep is all about the body, this is where you secrete growth hormone, rebuild cells and strengthen the immune system. You do not dream during this stage of sleep. Next is the REM or ‘rapid eye movement phase. While deep sleep is about the body, REM sleep is about the mind, your body paralyzes during this stage, and you begin to dream. This stage of sleep is very important for emotion and memory. Using a fitness tracker can show you exactly how much sleep you’re getting in each stage, as well as the total amount each night. You might feel like you’re doing well as you’re in bed for eight hours but only actually be asleep for five of them. Having this information available means you can change your routine or adjust your sleep schedule, you will feel much better for it.
Comfort and Sleeping Position
As humans, we spend a lot of our time lying down to sleep, and if you’re sleeping on an uncomfortable bed, it can cause all kinds of problems. Neck, back, shoulder, and hip pain can result in pressure points, and spending the night tossing, and turning can cause you to wake and disrupt the sleep cycles mentioned above. According to this 2017 mattress comparison review, the top mattresses were all-foam models which are something to consider if you’re looking to upgrade your mattress. Spring mattresses sag very quickly so while they can feel comfortable at first this doesn’t always last.
Getting into a good bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do when it comes to your sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day should help you to fall asleep quicker, and means the alarm won’t sound so painful in the morning. Switch off all technology an hour before bed since the light they emit can prevent you from falling asleep, stick to a soft reading light and a paper book instead. And ensure your bedroom is dark and quiet, blackout blinds will stop you from being woken early in the morning.