It might be Friday 13th but it’s also World Sleep Day. Time to check out your sleep health. Just how important is good sleep, and how are you doing at getting it?
What is World Sleep Day?
World Sleep Day was established to acknowledge the significance of sleep. The annual event aims to educate people on important issues related to sleep, with specific focus on better prevention and management of sleep disorders.
According to their website, World Sleep Day was started by a group of dedicated healthcare providers.
“Time and time again, sleep professionals and researchers came up against the belief that sleep was not important enough in personal health and wellbeing to be a priority,” they explain.
Time and time again, sleep professionals and researchers came up against the belief that sleep was not important
“Coupled with society’s 24/7 flow, the founders of this awareness event aim to celebrate the importance of healthy sleep.”
Why do I need to know this?
Sleep patterns change with age for a variety of reasons. These include – but are most definitely not limited to – the effects of menopause, prostate issues, increased snoring, and arthritis. There are environmental issues that affect sleep too, such as longer working hours and later retirement ages, meaning it takes time to wind down.
Increased use of screen time also affects our ability to switch off, keeping our brains active and beaming ‘wake-up’ blue light into your eyes.
People are desperately needing a better relationship with their sleep, they just aren’t realising it.
I sleep plenty – why should I be concerned?
Our bodies need plenty of sleep, but it’s about quality, not quantity. Sleeping for 10 hours a day is futile if it’s interrupted and uncomfortable – it’s also too long. Aim for around seven or eight hours.
As highlighted by the World Sleep Day bods, sleep is often a neglected component of a person’s overall well-being. We know that we must drink lots of water and eat our veggies, but for some reason we often forget about the necessity of sleep for our health.
Sleep is linked to several brain functions such as concentration and productivity
It’s important because it enables our body to rest and repair, to be fit and ready for another day. Sleep is linked to several brain functions such as concentration and productivity. There are also benefits in terms of preventing health complications with our organs, and it’s a key instrument in strengthening the immune system.
While the physical health benefits are important, so is our mental health, and a good sleep routine is absolutely necessary for ensuring a healthier mind.
TOP TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR SLEEP HEALTH
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake during the day
- Cut down on screen time – aim to have an hour without your phone or tablet before bed. And include the TV in that too. It’s stimulating light.
- Invest in the right pillow for you – there are different types for side sleepers, people who sleep on their backs and so on. Investigate
- Ensure your bedroom is the right temperature – it’s best to sleep in a cool room, so crack open a window (weather permitting!)
- Think about black-out curtains if your room gets a lot of light pollution
- Get ear plugs if you live in a loud environment or sleep with a snorer
- Perfect your night-time routine – a lavender bath, cup of tea, and read a chapter of your book, perhaps. Or meditate? Whatever slows you down. Do it as often as possible so your body starts to connect it with bedtime
- Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day – regular sleep is where it’s at, not four hours here, ten hours there. Your body hates that
- Speak to your GP about the benefits of tablets that include melatonin, the sleep hormone. They’re not for everyone but have helped many people
- Make sure you get some fresh air and enough exercise during the day; even a 10-minute walk can help
- Stay hydrated
Want to find out more? Read our article mythbusting common sleep claims