Why getting enough quality sleep is essential to your health and happiness

Life is all-consuming. We live in a busy world with non-stop demands on us and stimulation available 24-hours a day. And even when you sit down for the evening, your brain is probably tick, tick, ticking.

Dog in bedIt is well reported that sleeping 7-8 hours a night is the optimum for a healthy mind and body.

What is crazy, is that sleep is non-negotiable. Our bodies crave it so much that when we are deprived of sleep, we will eventually crash out with no regard to our safety or the safety of others. People regularly fall asleep while driving, and there have been incidents of air traffic controllers, pilots, bus drivers and security guards falling asleep on duty. This is an unusual phenomenon - as animals our primary concern is usually our own survival.

So why is sleep so important? What happens while we are napping that is so essential to our existence?

It’s a fascinating subject, and one that scientists are still exploring. There are several theories that are suggested about why we sleep, and the truth is probably a mixture of all of these.

  1. To process feelings and emotions we have experienced.
  2. To practise and prepare for dealing with situations and scenarios that we may not encounter in our day-to-day life.
  3. To sort through memories – to store and discard pieces of information gathered during the day.
  4. To restore – we produce hormones while we sleep to repair and reproduce cells, and to keep our immune system strong.

There are two stages of sleep – lighter REM sleep where most of our most vivid dreams occur, and deeper non-REM sleep where our arms and legs are temporarily paralysed and the majority of restorative work happens. Our bodies run through both stages several times in cycles throughout the night.

It is now accepted that REM sleep is equally as important as the physically restorative non-REM sleep, and that in fact this stage is responsible for helping the brain deal with creative issues such as problem-solving and learning new skills.

The good news is – if you don’t manage 7-8 hours at night, you can top up with a daytime power nap. Taking a short (less than 30 minute) nap twice a day has been shown to decrease stress and begin to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation.

So embrace those occasional lie-ins and early nights. Set yourself regular night-time routines. Buy a new mattress – better still, buy a quality made-to-measure bed that fits your exact demands.

Make sure you are giving your body what it needs and in return, you will see a huge improvement both in your health and your well-being.

Take a look at bed number eight in The Telegraphs top twelve beds for great nights sleep. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/interiors/home/best-bed-frames/