It’s time for a refresher course in good sleep health
National Bed Month is an annual event organised by the Sleep Council, informing and reminding us all of the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you’ve been feeling tired, achy or run down recently, March is the perfect time to reflect on the quality of your sleep, and ask yourself what more you could be doing to improve your sleep health. Because like eating well, exercising and staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep is a vital component in maintaining your overall health and wellbeing.
So in honour of National Bed Month, we’re inviting you all to this refresher course in understanding just how important a good night’s rest is, and what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
The power of sleep
There are endless benefits to good sleep health, not least that it can help you avoid excess weight gain. One study published in the National Library of Medicine found that children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese, respectively. This is partly due to the fact that when we sleep well, our body demands fewer calories the following day.
Sleep can also improve our mental performance, increasing concentration, cognition and productivity. One study on medical interns found that sleep deprived interns made an average of 36% more serious medical errors than those who received extra sleep. It has also been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Sleep can help us avoid contracting serious medical conditions like type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep affects our blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, increasing our risk of diabetes and other health conditions. Sleep can also affect immune function and increasesensitivity to everyday health concerns such as the common cold. One study found that those sleeping less than seven hours a night were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those sleeping 8 hours or more.
How to sleep better
With so many reasons to improve your sleep quality, you might be feeling the pressure, but getting better at sleeping is often surprisingly simple. All it requires are a few easy amendments to your routine.
Firstly, stop clock watching. Studies have found that constantly checking the time to see how many hours of sleep you’re likely to get only increases stress levels and inhibits relaxation. You can also adjust your diet to improve your sleep, limiting your intake of alcohol or caffeine later in the day. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it can significantly diminish the quality of the sleep you’re getting.
You should also try to develop a bedtime routine, and then stick to it. Our bodies thrive on routine, and in a few short days your brain will start to learn when it’s nearly time to wind down. If you find you can’t sleep because something is worrying you about the following day, try writing a to-do list to get your thoughts in order.
The Sleep Council suggest a new mattress for National Bed Month
Since it is National Bed Month, there is no better time to invest in a brand new mattress to improve your sleep. A bed with correct pressure relief, support, comfort and space will help you wake up less frequently throughout the night, move less while asleep, and wake up feeling less tired and achy — and more refreshed. In fact, figures from the Sleep Council suggest that replacing an uncomfortable bed could help increase the length of time you sleep by as much as 42 minutes.