It’s ironic that in a world where we need our minds and bodies to be rested and fresh to keep up with the many demands on our time, we’re more sleep-deprived than ever. Whether it’s young children, worrying about money or information overload that’s keeping us up at night, as a nation we’re chronically under-slept, with recent research from The Sleep Council finding that nearly half of us (47 per cent) are too anxious to sleep. In fact, a third of Brits now sleep for just five-to-six hours per night which is way less than the seven-to-eight hours that we should get.
“There are very real consequences to being constantly sleep-deprived,” says Lisa Artis, sleep advisor to The Sleep Council, an impartial organisation that focuses on raising awareness of the health benefits of getting enough sleep. “We can cope with one or two nights of broken sleep but in the longer term, our concentration levels diminish and we are more liable to experience mood swings and low mood. More worryingly, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a number of serious health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and depression.”
Sleep is for the weak
It’s easy to feel, in our ‘always on’, 24/7 culture, that sleep is for the weak. However, the reality is that most of us need around eight hours a night – some more, some less. If you spend your day longing to crawl into the nearest available cosy space and curl up, you probably need more than you’re getting. And according to the NHS, getting enough sleep has so many health benefits you might never want to change out of your PJs again. In no particular order, it can help us stay slim (under-slept bods have reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that makes us feel full, which is why our heads are in the biscuit tin – again), it boosts immunity and mental wellbeing, wards off heart disease and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even increases sex drive and fertility. It appears the humble…