The Healing Power of Sleep
It’s a simple requirement of life. We need to sleep. In the past, it has been thought that sleep is just a process for rest and has at times, been considered a weakness. Sleeping can be considered a waste of time to the busy and lazy to the energetic. Research completed by neuroscientist Matt Walker has started to change our perceptions. In his work, Matt has identified the healing power of sleep. Sleeping well improves our immune system and mental health but in a busy modern world, how can we sleep better?
The Benefits of Sleep
When you have a bad night’s sleep, you can tell it affects your mood and ability to perform everyday tasks. We learn to cope with this and often don’t pay attention to the other areas of our lives that poor sleep may be affecting. To help you understand why we need to make more effort to sleep better here are some of the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
As you sleep, your blood pressure goes down. This means that your heart and blood vessels get a rest. To have a healthy heart, it is important to have a steady blood pressure. If you spend too much time awake, your blood pressure is too high for too long. This can result in a constantly high blood pressure that puts you at more risk from a stroke or coronary heart disease.
Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
It is well known that our diet has a strong impact on whether we develop type 2 diabetes, but getting enough sleep also has an influence. Sleep deprivation affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. When you are in deep sleep the amount of glucose in your blood drops. If you don’t give the body this opportunity to drop the blood sugar level, it can remain high which creates a risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A Strong Immune System
While we sleep, our immune system continues to work. The proteins and cells in the immune system are supported by a sleep to detect and destroy foreign invaders in the body. This helps you to recover from the common cold but can also help the body to grow cancer-fighting cells. A good night’s sleep helps your immune system to respond and fight against illness. It is therefore very important to rest when you feel unwell.
Reduce Stress Levels
If you have a high level of stress, it can affect your well being in several ways. From mental health issues to physical tension, stress can cause you a lot of problems. The cause of stress can be from a variety of issues from work or relationships. When your body feels stressed, it releases hormones like cortisol which keep you awake. While you sleep, cortisol levels reduce which helps your body feel more relaxed.
How to Sleep Better
To make the most of the healing power of sleep, you need to aim to have 7-9 hours per day if you are aged between 18-65. For sleep times for other age groups, the sleep council has a handy guide. To sleep better, you need to set a sleeping time and be consistent. Decide on what hours of sleep best suit your lifestyle. For example, what time you need to get up to be on time for work. Then work back from the time you need to wake up to ensure you have 7-9 hours sleep. Once you have decided on your sleeping time, be consistent every day of the week. Which means no weekend lie-ins or late nights!
The Healing Power of Sleep
As neuroscientist Matt Walker says: ‘sleep is your life support system’. Sleep deprivation affects every corner of your life. When you start to sleep better, your body can heal and recover. Sleep helps your brain retain information and improves mental and physical health.
There are lots of ways you can try and improve your sleep. From getting good exposure to natural light in the day to making sure you don’t drink too much caffeine. Exercise is also great for improving your sleep as it makes the body feel tired and ready to rest.
If you want to improve your health with exercise and an improved lifestyle, Fitter Nottingham’s fitness coaches can support you every step of the way.