5 reasons you should sleep on time (If you don't already). Credit: EnvatoElements
In order for a human being to function correctly they must maintain ‘the 3 pillars of health’. These pillars are eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and, finally, getting enough sleep. The average adult is supposed to get up to 7-9 hours of sleep each night while teenagers (aged 13-19) should be getting around 8-10 hours of sleep.
According to the 10th Annual Relaxation Survey the UK is the most sleep deprived country in the world with 66% of Brits admitting to not getting enough sleep each night. This has a big link to modern society's obsession with hustle culture (a lifestyle where you are pushed to grind harder, faster and stronger without down time) to the point where we are willing to jeopardise our sleep over it. This is detrimental to you in the long run!
A 2013 study explained how a lack of sleep can cause disruptions with your hormones that regulate your appetite which can cause you to consume more calories. This imbalance can create a feeling of insatiability, meaning you are never satisfied no matter how much food you consume, so you are always hungry. This is why a lack of sleep can be linked to weight gain and obesity in both adults and children. It is a fact that people who go to sleep on time eat smaller portions of food.
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The main function of sleep is to help you rest and restore your brain. A study in 2015 proved that a lack of sleep can impair the brain and minimise cognitive functions diminishing your problem-solving skills as well as your ability to remember things. You need good cognitive function to perform well mentally, creatively, and physically too. Studies conducted on athletes by the Journal of Sports Science have shown that sleeping on time, for the right amount of time, can improve aspects of athletic and physical performance. This is because increased cognitive functions mean better physical coordination and enhanced mobility.
According to the CDC (Centres for Disease Control & Prevention) a plentiful night’s sleep will strengthen your immune system and leave you less susceptible to sickness. If you get less than 7-8 hours of sleep a night you increase your chance of getting heart disease, stroke, as well as type-2 diabetes. This is because you are not allowing adequate time for your blood pressure to go down which is what happens during a normal sleep cycle. Instead, by not sleeping on time, your blood pressure stays higher for longer, overworking your heart.
Sleep is an amazing tool for stabilising your mental health as it helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. When you get less than your recommended amount of sleep you increase the amount of stress hormones released into your body. This stress hormone is called cortisol and is produced by the HPA axis which helps you coordinate your sleep cycles. This increase of hormones is linked to depression, stress, anxiety and, in severe cases, can result in insomnia.
Going to sleep on time will regulate the hormones that affect your mood. A study performed by the Journal of Sleep Research tested the effects that sleep deprivation had on a person’s emotional state. They found that insufficient sleep and erratic sleep patterns decreased emotional empathy and reduced their social skills. A lack of sleep will reduce your ability to register people’s emotional states meaning it will be harder for you to be aware of others.
A way for you to combat the effects of blue light to improve your sleep is to download a computer software that counteracts its effects. Software like flux (suitable for both Windows and Mac) reduce the blue light emitted from your screen at sundown. For Iphones you can enable Night Shift for a similar effect and Night Light for android devices.
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Zheelana is a writer based in Cardiff. She has a BA Honours in English and Creative Writing and is a certified TESOL teacher. When she isn’t out hiking in the lush Welsh countryside, she fills her days with reading, journaling, and going out for food.