BLOG - The Importance of Sleep


Whether Wee are using our mobile devices too late in the day checking our social media or Wee are stressing about some thing in our life that may or may not happen Wee are unknowingly putting ourselves at a disadvantage and making our waking day harder. For each of us to perform to our full potential, a good nights sleep is essential.

"Sleep is the best meditation" - Dalai Lama

(He may just be onto something....)

Interestingly, more than a third (35%) of Brits have suffered from sleeping problems for more than five years; a fifth (20%) for more than ten.

The UK Sleep council recently released their Great British Bedtime Report for 2017. In this report they revealed the extent of how bad our sleep cycles are getting and stressed just how important sleep is for our health (mental & physical),our energy levels, our work productivity and our relationships to name a few.

So what are the facts ?

The Gender Gap:
  • 51% of women are kept up at night due to worry and stress compared to 39% of men
  • 29% of women blame partner disturbance compared to 19% of men
  • 53% of men are more likely to go to sleep after 11pm compared to 42% of women
  • 57% of women (who have trouble sleeping) admit it affects their energy levels most
  • 49% of men say it affects their mood the most

The Age Gap:

  • 34% (more than a third) of 25-34 year-olds listen to music to help them sleep compared to just 15% of those aged over 55
  • 23% (almost a quarter) of 25-34 year-olds have used a sleep tracker or sleeping app compared to just 5% of over 55s
  •  
  • 17% of people aged 25–34 are most likely to check their social media before settling down for the night
  • 38% of those aged 55-plus are most likely to read

The Wage Gap:

  • 71% of those who earn a household income of £80,001 - £100,000 sleep for more than six hours on an average night
  • 29% of Brits who earn less than £10,000 don’t go to sleep until after midnight
  • Research shows the more money people earn, the more they feel energised in the morning; almost half (49%) of those who earn £40,001 - £80,000 feel refreshed in the morning compared to just 35% who earn less than £10,000

So how does this affect our Health & Wellbeing ?

Wee all know by now that sleep can make or break the upcoming day, in this study more than half of the respondents (55%) said they felt ready to face the day after getting some zzzs.

When further asked what aspect of their life was most affected by lack of sleepthe answers were:

  • 53% said energy levels
  • 52% mood
  • 36% health
  • 23% work performance 
  • 21% personal relationships

A key factor in your sleep cycles is Melatonin, Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of it are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

What actually happens when Wee are sleeping ?

John Peever, director of the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Toronto, and Brian J. Murray, director of the sleep laboratory at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center say:

The function of sleep has mystified scientists for thousands of years, but modern research is providing new clues about what it does for both the mind and body. Sleep serves to reenergize the body's cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite and libido.

Sleeping is an integral part of our life, and as research shows, it is incredibly complex. The brain generates two distinct types of sleep—slow-wave sleep (SWS), known as deep sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM), also called dreaming sleep. Most of the sleeping we do is of the SWS variety, characterized by large, slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and slow, deep breathing, which may help the brain and body to recuperate after a long day.

When we fall asleep, the brain does not merely go offline, as implied by the common phrase “out like a light.” Instead a series of highly orchestrated events puts the brain to sleep in stages. Technically sleep starts in the brain areas that produce SWS. Scientists now have concrete evidence that two groups of cells—the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus in the hypothalamus and the parafacial zone in the brain stem—are involved in prompting SWS. When these cells switch on, it triggers a loss of consciousness.

After SWS, REM sleep begins. This mode is bizarre: a dreamer's brain becomes highly active while the body's muscles are paralyzed, and breathing and heart rate become erratic. The purpose of REM sleep remains a biological mystery, despite our growing understanding of its biochemistry and neurobiology.

We do know that a small group of cells in the brain stem, called the subcoeruleus nucleus, controls REM sleep. When these cells become injured or diseased, people do not experience the muscle paralysis associated with REM sleep, which can lead to REM sleep behavior disorder—a serious condition in which the afflicted violently act out their dreams.

So what can Wee do ?

1) Regularity - Go to bed & wake up at the same time, regardless if it's the weekend or not is paramount.

2) Dim or turn off the lights - The invasion of light in our homes through technology has dramtically increase over just the last few years. Light suppresses Melatonin so Wee suggest dimming or switching half the lights of in the house & an hour before bed & stop using phones, tablets, TV etc. 

Note: Recent studies found that 1 hour of iPad (or tablet) reading compared to 1 hour of book reading delays our bodies ability to make melatonin by 3 hours thus keeping us awake much longer.

3) Keep cool - Your brain actually needs to drop its temperature by about 2-3 degress fahrenheit to initiate sleep, that's the rason you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that's cooler.

 

So ask yourself, am i putting myself at a disadvantage with too much technology before bed ? Is lack of quality sleep effecting my daily performance ?


For more info on sleep in the UK please visit www.sleepcouncil.org.uk
Excerpt taken from www.scientificamerican.com
Written by Calum
The Wee Hemp Team

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