The importance of a good night’s sleep

May 07, 2021 - By Lucy Johnston

The importance of a good night’s sleep

The average human will spend a third of their lives sleeping, but make no mistake the quality of that sleep is just as important as the quantity.

In fact, how much sleep we enjoy and how restful that sleep is are both linked to our general wellbeing and mental health.

Here’s an insight into the importance of a good night’s sleep, and a few tips on how can you achieve it…

Sleep and your health

As the Sleep Foundation explains, sleep is an essential function that allows your body to regenerate, revitalise and rest.

While we sleep, our bodies heal damaged cells, our immune system gets a boost and our brains recharge so they can focus the following day.

In fact, sleep is so important, a regular lack of quality sleep is linked to both mental health issues and a higher risk of some diseases.

By way of illustrating the point, here are just some issues linked to poor sleeping habits:

  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Impaired concentration, cognition, productivity, and performance
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increased Type 2 diabetes risk
  • Increased risk of depression

So now we know how important it is, how much sleep do we actually need?

How much sleep do we need?

The average adult should have between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. For children and teens the hours of sleep required increases.

It is recommended that newborns have between 14 and 17 hours sleep, infants should have 12 to 15 hours, toddlers should be getting 11 to 14 hours rest, school aged children should have between 9 and 11 hours, while teens should have 8 to 10.

But within that sleep, there are also a series of cycles that are important to the quality of that rest.

Quality counts

Sleep involves four different stages that are broadly divided into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and three types of non-REM (NREM) sleep.

Each night, we cycle through these stages multiple times, with increasingly deeper REM periods usually occurring towards morning.

It is thought both REM and non-REM sleep are linked to memory consolidation and wellbeing.

But how do you ensure you get a good night’s rest?

How to get a good night’s sleep

Getting a good night’s rest involves a combination of routine, good diet, and the right sleep environment.

So here are our top tips to assist…

Have a routine – It’s easier to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest if your body is in the habit of going to bed and waking up at a similar time each night and day.

Avoid stimulants prior to bed-time – Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are all stimulants that stop you getting the quality of sleep you need. These should be avoided in the evening.

A little R&R – Part of your daily routine should involve relaxing before you go to sleep – whether that involves a nice bath, some meditation, or just reading a good book. For some, relaxing scents may help get you in the sleeping groove.

Set up a sleep conducive environment – Your bedroom should be a haven that offers a nice comfortable temperature, a quality mattress, and bedding and sheets that allow your body to regulate its temperature while you sleep.

It should also be a room that you can darken with blinds or curtains.

Mind those devices – The blue light from screens such as televisions, laptops and even mobile phones has been linked to reduced feelings of drowsiness, so it pays to step away from your computer in the hours before bed, and you should not be sleeping with your television on.

The final nod

Sleep is a pillar of human health and just as important as your diet and exercise when it comes to ensuring your mental health and wellbeing.

Although you can improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest with routine, relaxation and a proper diet, if you persistently struggle to get a quality night’s rest, it could be worth consulting a professional to assist.