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The importance of sleep

Sleep – that blissful state where all life’s pressures drift away in a cosy haze.  As well as being a very pleasant experience for most, sleep is essential to good health – without it, the brain simply cannot shut down and rest in the way it needs to.If only it were that simple for everyone.Sleep problems are not uncommon, but can be symptomatic of underlying issues that can often be addressed.If you are not sleeping here are some tips to why and also what you can do to have a successful nights sleep.

Sleep has two key parts that we all experience every night in cycles of around 90 minutes at a time.:

  1. Deep sleep – this helps our brains to rest and grow
  2. REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, sleep – this is when we dream, and allows our brains to process things that have happened during the day

Provided we get enough quality sleep on a reasonably regular basis, we are able to function well and don’t suffer the effects of sleep deprivation.

Causes of Sleep Problems

As sleep is inextricably linked to the brain, it follows that anything affecting the inner workings of your head can also affect your ability to settle to sleep.   Factors contributing to the disruption can include:

Medical – pain from physical disorders like arthritis, disturbances from a increase in the need to urinate due to medical conditions, or side effects from drugs can all affect your ability to fall asleep and remain restful

Environmental – an uncomfortable bed, a snoring partner, external noise disturbance, or too much light are all examples of factors that can affect your ability to get to sleep, and stay that way

Lifestyle – caffeine, alcohol, shift work, daily stress of work, specific pressure points like exams, long distance travel and time zone shifts – we all make different life choices, and these can have a surprising effect on sleep patterns

Stress – no real surprise to see this on the list.  From general worries and concerns, to stress associated with life-changing events such as divorce, bereavement, new job or home and so on all cause stress, which is a common cause of sleep problems.

not sleeping

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

It is well documented that lack of sleep can affect the way you function during the day.  Here are a few of the common effects experienced:

  • Slower thought processes
  • Reduced or impaired motor control
  • Fluctuations in metabolism and hormone levels
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • It can be a trigger for underlying mental health problems such as bipolar disorder

In short, lack of sleep can mess up your body, and have long-term effects on your psychological well-being.

How to Get More Sleep

It is clearly best to try and address your sleep issues in the interests of your physical and mental health.  A good place to start is by looking at the causes mentioned above and considering how some of these, and others, may be contributing to your sleep problems, and if you can make any positive changes to address this.  The following tips can also help:

  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee or alcohol in the evening, and reducing your fluid intake in the evening will also help prevent toilet breaks disturbing your night
  • Exercise earlier in the day stimulates chemicals in your brain that can help you relax later
  • Get comfy – make sure your mattress is comfortable, and sound-proof your room as much as possible, using earplugs if necessary
  • Try to establish a regular pattern of sleep, and avoid daytime naps
  • Relax before bed, avoiding emotional upsets if at all possible, and switch off with a book, bath or some soft music




About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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