This guide is designed to provide valuable information on the importance of a restorative night’s sleep and how best to achieve it.
Why sleep requires attention now more than ever.
The UK national average for sleep duration has been steadily shortening since the 1960s. This can be blamed, in large part, on what we might term the “modern lifestyle”.
The modern lifestyle is characterised by:
• Longer hours spent at work
• Excessive screen time before bed (computers, gaming devices, mobile devices, TV)
• Artificial lights in the home
• Alcohol consumption
• Caffeine consumption
• Sedentary behaviour
Getting quality sleep is essential to health and wellbeing. After all, it is possible to live five times as long without food as it is without sleep.
What would happen if we didn’t sleep?
Sleep deprivation afflicts everyone at some point in life. It can leave an individual feeling groggy, grumpy, irritable, uncoordinated and quite often forgetful. Left for longer and we would find that our control of language and memory would also suffer.
The most important role of sleep as we understand it is to moderate brain activity. This is essential to the maintenance of cognitive skills such as speech, coordination and memory. A lack of sleep can also aggravate pre-existing pain and hinder recovery.
How much sleep do we need?
While the likes of Florence Nightingale, Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon claimed to get by on just four hours a night, most of us need between 7 and 9 hours as adults. Babies can sleep for as much as 20 hours, small children and teenagers for 10-12 hours.
How important is sleep?
No animal on Earth can survive without sleep. While we still aren’t entirely sure why this is, sleep scientists are building a clearer picture of the effects of sleep and sleep deprivation in both the short and long term.
Good sleep patterns have been proven to benefit
• Energy levels
• The immune system
• Stress relief and blood pressure
• Resistance to cardiovascular disease and diabetes
• Athletic performance
• Weight control