I go through these periods where I’m really having difficulties falling a sleep or where I wake up in the middle of the night and keep tossing and turning until the break of dawn. If this happens to you from time to time, then you know how one feels the next day…..walking around like a zombie probably not being a really nice person to your husband and children, your work is done but with a maximum of effort and a minimum of results and all you can think about is going back to bed instantly and forget about this day!
Does this happen to you sometimes? Have you ever wondered why you don’t sleep well? Does it happen often? What does it do to you mentally and physically when you do not get enough sleep? This article is all about why getting enough sleep is important for your health. And more important, it gives you tips on how to improve it!
The reasons for sleeping problems
Are you having trouble falling asleep? Are you lying awake a long time before falling asleep? In average, it takes 30 minutes for someone to fall asleep. 25% of the population is having regular sleeping problems, 50% of the population is having occasional sleeping problems. About 8% of the population is having chronic problems with falling asleep or sleeping the whole night through.
Then what causes our sleeping problems?
Stress is one of the main factors that we do not sleep well! I for sure know that this is my biggest problem. Our body and mind need to relax before we go to bed, otherwise we will just continue worrying about work, family, health or financial issues.
Another reason could be our (bad) habits when it comes to sleep. It is important to prepare yourself mentally and physically before going to bed. Try to go bed around the same time every night and get up in the morning at the same time as well, also during the weekends. Exercise, even a little, and get some fresh air every day. Avoid drinking alcohol and do not eat just before you go to bed, at least not after 8 pm. Clean your face and brush your teeth
Too much noise is causing serious sleeping problems. Your bedroom should be a quiet and relaxing space. Noisy neighbors, outside traffic but also a snoring partner can cause sleeping problems. Did you know that a snoring partner can cause as much as 100 decibel?! This is just as loud as the movie cinema or a concert!
We know that for a good nights’ sleep, your bedroom should have little light, a cool temperature and no noises. But it is also important that your bed and your bed linen are of good quality. A mattress should be replaced every ten years and a pillow should give you good support for your head and your neck and should improve your spine alignment.
Chronic sleeping problems
Some people are having chronic sleeping problems. Some symptoms of chronic sleeping problems are:
- Having trouble falling asleep
- Waking up several times a night and having trouble falling back asleep again
- Waking up very tired in the morning and staying tired all day
- Being irritable
- Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
There are many sorts of chronic sleeping problems, like apnea, the restless legs syndrome (RLS), sleeplessness as a result of neurological or psychological problems, but also a jet lag or menopause can cause sleeping problems. Do the sleeping problem test and discover if you are having sleeping problems.
What does it do to you mentally and physically?
It is not just resulting in being tired when you are having trouble sleeping. It might cause short term and long term problems.
Weight problems. When we do not sleep enough or not in a consistent way, our body produces too much of the stress hormone Cortisol. This hormone stimulates the production of glucose in our body. The insulin will transform this glucose into glycogen. But when there is no more room for glycogen, the glucose will be transformed into fat. Also, more glucose, and therefore insulin, will give you a hungry feeling.
Reduced thinking and learning ability. Sleep is very important to your ability to think and learn. A lack of sleep has a negative impact on your cognitive processes. You will be less alert, less concentrated and less capable of finding solutions.
A bad skin is also one of the results of sleeping problems. Sleep influences the hormones cortisol and melatonin in your body. We already saw that when you do not get enough sleep, the stress hormone cortisol is not favorable for your weight. If your body produces too much cortisol, it will also increase the production of sebum, which increase the chance of pimples. It also dries out your skin faster. On the long term it can accelerate the aging process. The melatonin hormone is decreasing when we sleep less. This results in a lower collagen production. Collagen is important for keeping your skin young and for your overall condition. Therefore, your skin will thank you for sleeping enough!
How much sleep do we need?
At different ages, we need different hours of sleep. Babies can sleep up to 18 hours a day. As we get older, we need less sleep. The needs are very different from one person to another. Some feel great when sleeping for 5 hours a night, I am definitely not one of those! I need my 8 hours of sleep per night.
School going children need to have a good nights’ rest as well, as they are developing both mentally and physically in a fast pace in these years. Children who do not sleep enough tend to be more often sick, might have behavior problems or tend to be more often overweight. It is recommended that they sleep for around 10 hours per night.
Adult need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, this is the case for approximately 65% of all adults. 8% of the adults do very well when sleeping less than 6 hours, whereas 2% needs more than 10 hours.
Why sleep is important for your health
Sleep is important for your body and your mind. During your sleep your body and muscle tissue recover from your daily activities. Your nervous – and immune system are being maintained during your sleep. For our brains a good nights’ sleep is very important as well. During the REM sleep there is an increase in the brain activity on the social and emotional level. This is why we function well during the day when interacting with other people.
What can you do to improve your sleep
This is all very nice to know, but off course we are all searching for the secrets of sleeping well. Here are some tips on how you can improve your sleep:
- Try to keep a pattern, go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even during the weekends!
- Do not drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed
- Ventilate your bedroom every day, make sure your mattress is of good quality and avoid noise
- Your bedroom is where you rest, so take away smartphones, computers, TV’s
- Breathing, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Hold your breath for 3 seconds every time, repeat this several times and feel how the tension leaves your body.
- Listen to relaxation music
- Don’t eat just before going to bed
- Try earplugs if there is unavoidable noise from outside or a snoring partner
- Try an alarm clock with a sunset / sunrise option
Are there any other tips that you have tried and that helped? I would love to hear all about them! Being a person with regular sleeping difficulties, I have tried everything that I have written just above but am still very interested in learning other tips and tricks as well. I wish you all sweet dreams for tonight!