Sleep – Why we need it and some helpful tips

This might sound fairly obvious but it never hurts to be reminded that sleep is so important. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

When life feels fairly hectic and stress levels are high, our sleep can be one of the first things to be affected. Studies show that insomnia and other challenges with sleep can increase our chances of both physical and mental ill health, and if we are already experiencing mental health challenges there is an increased risk that the symptoms we’re experience may intensify.

To give a little more detail an article by the Sleep Foundation explains some of the things that might be affected by a lack of sleep. Some of these things are:

  • Our emotional health, and if we’re not adults yet also our emotional development. They say, “mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder have routinely been linked to poor sleep”.
  • Our physical health. Sleep gives our body a chance to rest and reset. Dr Gellner, a paediatrician, talked in an interview about how a lack of sleep can affect our immune system and if we’re not getting enough sleep the cells that help us fight infection are decreased, meaning we don’t have the protection against sickness that we need to stay well.

This makes getting a proper night’s sleep really important and there are some things we can do to help this, as recommended by the Sleep Health Foundation.

  • Making time to unwind an hour or so before going to sleep to help the body and mind relax. This may look like watching, reading or listening to things that are calming and help put us at ease.
  • Having scheduled sleep and wake-up times. This helps to train our internal body clock to be ready for sleep at more consistent times.
  • Keeping your sleeping space just for sleeping. It’s tempting to use our bed for anything and everything (eating, daytime relaxing, watching tv) but by only using our bed for sleep it helps to train our body and mind that when we are in bed that means it’s time to rest.

Information Sources

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/teens-and-sleep

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/teenagers-and-sleep

https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_49he136u

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