According to the 2016 Sleep health Survey of Australian Adults, 35% to 45% of Australian adults are not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep has led to a decrease in concentration, work productivity and an increase of risks on the road. What is the importance of sleep? Why do we need it? Sleep naturally resets the body back into optimum health. Lack of sleep – the amount and the quality of it – has been linked to a variety of serious health problems.
1. The purpose of sleep
Metabolic health benefits 8.5 hours of sleep utilises a higher proportion of fat as an energy source compared to 5.5 hours of sleep, which uses carbohydrates and proteins. Lack of sleep can lead to a lot of unhealthy side effects such as fat gain, muscle loss, insulin insensitivity, metabolic syndrome, and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
The human flush function Sleep flushes out metabolic waste accumulated in the body through daily neural activities. There have been links between Alzheimer’s disease and a high-level accumulation of waste products produced within the body. Sleep enables our brains to flush out these harmful toxins. Studies have revealed how a type of drainage network exists within the brain, called the glymphatic system. This system kicks into high gear when we sleep, helping to wash away the harmful metabolic debris generated during brain activity during the day. New research suggests that prolonged sleep deprivation may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia, which results in memory loss and confusion. There is no cure, and current treatments are not very effective.
Stores memory and keeps the brain healthy Sleep is vital in storing long-term memories including facts, figures and emotional memories.
2. The Recommended hours of sleep ranges from 7-9 hours a day for adults to function optimally.
A single night of poor sleep is enough to see damaging effects in the brain. No one is suggesting there is any direct link between the odd bout of bad sleep and serious illness, but getting enough of the right kind of sleep should be something we all prioritise – not only so we feel alert the next day, but to protect our future health.
3. How we can sleep better
Enforce sleep and sex only in the bedroom Reduce the choices in the bedroom by removing electrical devices and other functions in the bedroom. Less choice and fewer distractions lead to better sleep.
Turn off the lights and sound Turn off and block any electrical devices, light and sound around 1-2 hours before sleeping. Light has been shown to reduce melatonin, which is responsible for regulating sleep. The ideal bedroom is a dark, quiet room with a comfortable bed and a temperature ranging from 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.
Relax Stress has been linked to insomnia. Relax by reading a book, breathing exercises, daily journaling or exercising.
Develop a routine Sleep around the same time each night, which will naturally allow the body to sleep easier.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol No coffee after midday will give enough time for the effects of caffeine to leave the body. While a glass of wine may help you fall asleep initially, it will also alter your sleep pattern and the quality of your sleep.
Get some exercise Daily exercise can help alleviate problems such as anxiety and depression, which can interfere with sleep. It will also raise your body temperature, with the ensuing decrease in core body temperature that follows helping us achieve better sleep.
If you are looking to improve your health, work productivity, memory, and fat burning capability, start by hitting the reset button and going to sleep.