Did you know that just one night of sleep deprivation combined with a poor diet can make your body insensitive to insulin and therefore raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes? This finding, as a result of research by the Obesity Society, shows just one effect that poor sleep can have. Findings also show that around one third of Americans are sleep-deprived, clocking in less than six hours of zzzs per night. As you delve into the subject of sleep, you may find that quantity isn’t the only important consideration; so is quality. Read on and discover why sleep matters and how you can achieve it every night.
Sleep Boosts the Immunity
A study by scientists at the University of Washington Health Services on 11 pairs of identical twins found that twins who slept less, had a depressed immune system when compared to their sibling. Previous studies had already shown that vaccines given to people who were sleep-deprived had a lower antibody response than in those who slept well. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep a night but that is just the beginning of the story.
Quality Matters Too
If you sleep the required number of hours but you still wake up feeling tired, chances are, your sleep quality is poor. The National Sleep Foundation describes good sleep quality as waking up no more than once during the night, falling asleep soon after getting into bed, and being awake no more than 20 minutes in total after you have fallen asleep. When you wake up frequently or toss and turn at night, you may not be making it through all the required sleep cycles. One of these cycles, the ‘deep sleep cycle’, is particularly important because this is a time of cell renewal and muscle and tissue regeneration.
Making Good Sleep a Priority
There are many more studies indicating the extent to which poor sleep can hamper everything from your memory to your ability to drive safely. If you want to start sleeping well, a decent bed is probably the pillar on which to build upon. Choosing the right mattress is key; if you sleep on your side, opt for memory foam, which will ensure all parts of your body are equally supported. The best mattress for stomach sleepers and back sleepers, meanwhile, should be firm to avoid backache. Silence and darkness are also key; to sleep in line with your body’s circadian rhythms, invest in good blackout curtains and soundproofing if you live in a noisy area. Finally, try to create a sleep routine and follow it religiously; this involves sleeping at the same time every night and adopting habits like taking a warm bath before bed or practicing progressive muscle relaxation in bed.
Keeping Stress at Bay
One of the most common reasons why we stay awake at night is stress. Battle rising cortisol (stress hormone) levels actively throughout the day, so it doesn’t bother you at night. Some of the most efficient ways to keep anxiety and stress levels down are yoga and mindfulness meditation. Regular physical activity will also help you enjoy that deliciously sleepy feeling when you get into bed.
Good sleep affects our mood, academic and work ability, and our long-term health. Diabetes, heart disease, and a hampered immunity are just a few conditions that can be brought about by failing to give sleep the required priority. Make sure to invest in comfortable bedroom and mattress, try to establish a good sleep routine, and fight stress during the day so it doesn’t bother you at night time.