Do Sleepless Nights Really Affect You?
Avoiding sleepless nights is easier said than done. We’ve all heard that we should all get 8 hours sleep a night, but how realistic is that? With kids, pets, alarms, worries (and great television shows!) it’s not always easy to get to bed on time. Over the last 10 years the Center for Time Use Research has discovered that adults are in bed for less than 7.5 hours a night which means they sleep even fewer hours than that.
Many of us don’t realise that sleep can be interrupted by internal biological factors, including changes in carodiovascular activity – when the heart rate changes pace during the night, body movements and changes of consciousness. Often we blame external noise for our nightly interruptions (think snoring or neighbourhood sounds), which is true, however, our own bodies can react to medicines unexpectedly, anxiety or depression can affect our sleeping abillity.
Pair these biological factors with external noise and getting a good night’s rest can be more difficult than one imagines. So what are the effects of lack of sleep at night?
Not having enough sleep at night can impact your memory and cause forgetfulness. Experiencing too little sleep over an extended period of time can cause risk to yourself and others around you as your judgement is impaired when tired, reactions are slowers and decision can be impacted. Ensuring you sleep well will keep your mind sharp and avoid you being ‘scatterbrained’.
AGING OF YOUR SKIN
Yip! Not sleeping well can actually make you older and take a toll on the well being of your skin. Poor sleep results in fine links, dark circles under the eyes and droopy skin. This is because cortisol (stress hormone) is released in the body and breaks down collagen in the skin which affects the skin’s smooth appearance and elasticity.
When there is a lack of sleep the body is low on energy. This means a person will look to other sources to gain energy which usually means – food! When you lack sleep you’re also mentally tired which means you don’t have the energy to make good choices and whatever seems quickest and easiest comes to mind. Think: junk food! Continously indulging in sweets and treats may give the body energy in the short term, however, in the long term it can result in gaining weight.
So what’s the solution? Here are 3 tips to ensure you get a good night’s rest:
- DO THE MATH
If you need to get up at 6am, need 8 hours sleep, then don’t go to bed at exactly 10pm. Go to bed at 9pm, read your book/Twitter/newspaper but be in bed before the time you actually need to sleep. This way you will have time to think about things, relax a little and then fall asleep “on time”.
If your partner is 6 foot 5, don’t sleep in a double bed, it’s time to upgrade. The modern world is filled with many beds these days including extentions or customiible sizes for the extra tall or the extra wide. Make sure you have your own personal space (that doesn’t result in you falling off the bed) so that you can have your own space and not be interrupted by the movements of your partner/dogs/cats.
- CUT IT OUT
Cut out all the noise that annoys you. Car alarms, sirens, cat calls, beeping, television noise, SNORING, get rid of it all by using simple ear plugs. These make all the difference when trying to fall asleep and fall away from consciousness. Cutting out sounds that result in relaxing long enough to fall asleep is vital.
Keep your spare ear plugs under your pillow so that if you do wake up during the night (from snoring or other sounds), you can reach under your pillow and find a spare ear plug to use. This can ensure that you fall asleep far more quickly should one of your ear plugs come out during the night.