Along with exercise and a healthy diet, sleep is a fundamental pillar of good health. When we sleep well we are happier, healthier, and get more out of each day. Despite this, 4 out of 10 Australians (1) and 1 in 4 New Zealanders (2) are currently not getting enough sleep.
In fact, poor sleep is so prevalent in Australia that the Federal Government launched an inquiry into sleep deprivation, labeling lack of sleep a national ‘crisis’ for the health, safety and mental health of Australians (3). Sleep quality should be a priority – but with so many of us losing sleep, it seems like it’s still rated low on our priorities.
We want to change this. Here are 8 reasons why improving your sleep will change your life for the better:
1. Improved Overall Health
Why do we need sleep to remain healthy?
Sleep is nature’s method of repairing the body,and proper sleep keeps us healthy, strong and resilient both physically and mentally. Countless studies have shown the long-term effects of sleep deprivation, which include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression, just to name a handful.
How much sleep do we need?
It is recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to remain healthy and function at their best. 7 to 8 hours allows approximately five sleep cycles to take place (the optimum amount you need to wake feeling rested and rejuvenated).
Getting 6 hours of sleep or less is harmful to one’s immune system, reaction timing and mental health – a recent US study revealed that getting only 6 hours of sleep for a few consecutive nights has the same effect as getting no sleep at all. (4)
2. Prevent Accidents
Research shows that sleep-deprived people are more likely to be involved in accidents, whether they’re road accidents, accidents in the workplace, or simply just around the house. When running low on sleep, your reaction time decreases and you have less attention to detail. Shift workers are most at risk, being 6 times more likely to be in a fatigue-related road accident due to sleep debt (5). A 2017 report by Deloitte found that lack of sleep kills 3,017 people a year, including 394 who died in an industrial accident or after falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle. (1)
3. Pain Relief
Those who suffer from pain, whether chronic or temporary, know it’s something that is never easy to deal with. Sleep is a vital part of healing, and missing out on precious sleep can lower your pain threshold. If your pain is making it difficult to sleep, we recommend consulting your doctor for some sleeping aids or pain relief.
4. Drop the Weight
When healthy sleep patterns become a habitual part of your lifestyle, weight loss will become easier. The body burns calories while it sleeps, which fosters the connection between sleep and weight loss.
What’s more, when you are sleep deprived the body starts to crave fatty or sugar-filled foods to give you an extra energy boost. Getting enough sleep will leave you more likely to make healthy food choices!
In terms of exercise, getting quality sleep will allow you to get the most out of your workouts, leading to improved fitness and aiding weight loss.
5. Better Sex Life
1 in 4 people admit their sex lives are suffering due to lack of sleep, and rightfully so: recent research has found that poor sleep dramatically reduces testosterone levels in men (6). When we are tired we are more irritable, less likely to feel good, and less likely to want to have sex. Get some sleep, so you can make the most of the time spent with your partner.
6. Smile and Be Happy
Getting optimal sleep does wonders for our mood and improves our mental health in hugely positive ways! When we don’t sleep well we are more emotionally vulnerable, and in a worse mood in general – our threshold for anger drops, anxiety increases, and we tend to socialise less. Getting enough sleep will not only improve our mood, but allow us to be our best selves for our friends and family, including maximising our energy.
7. Sharpen Your Mind
Everyone knows that after a good night’s sleep, our mind is sharper and our memory is able to function to it’s full capacity. Sleep clears the mind and repairs it. In fact, during REM sleep, our brain actually consolidates information and memories from the previous day, allowing us to make informed and rational decisions the next day! The term ‘sleep on it’ makes more sense than you think.
If you are waking up feeling cloudy, and find yourself constantly visiting the coffee machine to get through your workday, try prioritising the quality and quantity of your sleep and see how things change.
8. Boost Your Immunity
Research has shown that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are 3 times more likely to get sick than those who get 8 hours of sleep per night. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Cytokines help regulate immunity and inflammation, and are needed to fight off infections in the body. So when you’re sleep-deprived, you’re actually depriving your immune system of its ability to function. Missing out on sleep puts us at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases. And even on the day-to-day level, sleep boosts our immunity against the flu – so we’re more likely to be able t o fight off a cold.
Ready for better sleep to change your life? Explore A.H. Beard’s range of Australian-made sleep solutions today.
- Deloitte Access Economics, Asleep on the Job: Costs of Inadequate Sleep in Australia, 2017
- Research by Sleep Wake Centre, Massey University, Wellington Campus
- Australian Federal Government, Bedtime Reading, April 2019 https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Health_Aged_Care_and_Sport/SleepHealthAwareness/Report
- https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/sleep/shift-work-and-sleep/ ABC, ‘Consistent approaches to working hours and shift breaks needed, sleep inquiry finds’, 10 April 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-10/sleep-inquiry-report-calls-for-health-focus/10987846