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The importance of sleep

Brunette woman sleeping in the morning in her bedroom
6 years ago I was diagnosed with a sleep disorder that I have very little control over. At 5 feet 11 inches tall and 95kgs with body fat levels of an elite athlete (10% or below) I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnoea. After speaking with many specialists I realised that not being overweight or having sinus issues, there was very little from a medical angle that could be done. I wasn’t going to allow the sleep apnoea beat me! My specialist mentioned that if I did not attend to my sleep disorder that my disorder is like a moderate to fast growing melanoma and I may not be around in 5 years-time. After many years of research on this subject I realise that there are a small percentage of people that develop sleep disorders due to very little fault of their own however on the other side of the coin, most people that develop sleep disorders can take full responsibility and actually break the cycle. A large percentage of individuals who have developed sleep disorders and particularly sleep apnoea are overweight and do not live a lifestyle that is conducive with good sleep patterns. The benefits of a good night sleep are irrebuttable and as the years go by we all start to realise how important a good night sleep is to our health and well-being.

Here are 5 reasons why you should strongly consider getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night and if you don’t, I have complied a list of 5 ways to assist.

5 reasons:

1. To prevent excess weight gain-Studies have proven that individuals who do not get quality and lengthy sleep, overeat. Most will crave sugar and will find it near impossible to avoid overeating.

2. To allow correct hormonal regulation-During the 5 stages of sleep our hormones assist greatly in regulating our recovery. Amongst many other factors our hormones play a major role towards keeping our body in a healthy balance (homeostasis). This includes weight control, blood pressure, cholesterol and many other factors.
3. It’s crucial for decision making and concentration- Not only does your long term health rely on quality sleep patterns, but your daily health will also benefit. From dangerous tasks including driving a vehicle or operating a machine(which becomes increasingly dangerous in a sleep deprived mode) to making the correct decisions about your daily routine including food and exercise

4. Physical and mental motivation-When our bodies are not at full rest we find it incredibly difficult to be motivated to work, concentrate or exercise. Put simply we become much less effective at performing tasks from communicating with partners and friends to parenting decisions. We can often find ourselves irritated by the smallest of issues.

5. General quality of life-Your life depends on it. Whether you have a sleep disorder, moderate or severe sleep apnoea or just restless sleep, either way the quality of you daily routine will be effected. Everything you do on a daily basis is potentially effected by your sleep. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without good sleep. The single most effective way of increasing the quality of your life is by increasing the quality of your sleep!!

5 ways to assist

1. See your GP- If you are unsure then see your local general practitioner. They can assist you with a simple questionnaire which can literally save your life

2. Book in for a sleep study- A sleep study will reveal your sleep pattern. They are relatively inexpensive when you consider the importance of a study. Chances are if you are a heavy snorer, or do not feel well rested after a good night sleep then you may need assistance. Your local doctor should be able to refer you. This is just as important to consider for the rest of your family including children. It is highly likely that if your children snore then they will require immediate attention

3. Avoid sugars and caffeine-If you are struggling with good quality sleep then sugar and caffeine may both be affecting your sleep. If you find it difficult to eliminate sugar and caffeine endeavour to minimise your intake and consume these earlier in the day. Sugary snacks and caffeine prior to going to sleep will add to your poor sleep habits. This is a proven fact backed by studies.

4. Create a routine around your sleep- It’s extremely important to have a similar routine prior to getting to sleep. This includes getting to sleep at a similar time whenever possible. Try to create a habit around going to sleep in the same environment and under the same conditions you would normally get to sleep.

5. Exercise regularly-We all know how important it is to exercise. Both mentally and physically an exercise routine can and most likely will benefit your sleep pattern. Being a little extra tired by the time you get to sleep can make a significant difference.

There are other ways to enhance the quality of your sleep but the above are the most simplistic and also the most beneficial ways to go about it. If you are unaware of a sleep disorder or any ailment for that matter then it is very difficult to manage it. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the above information. Due to my own personal experiences I understand the importance and the threatening nature of a sleep disorder and many more individuals suffer from poor sleep than realised.

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