Recent data reveals that you probably aren’t relaxing enough or getting enough sleep
We all say we like to relax, but new research suggests that we aren’t doing it as much as we should be. When it comes to taking time off work and even getting a good night’s sleep, the UK is lagging behind.
This is according to the 10th Annual Relaxation Survey, which found the UK to be the most sleep-deprived — as well as the most holiday-deprived — country in the world. In fact, results found that two thirds of the UK population (66%) aren’t getting as much sleep as they should be.
Singapore was ranked the second most sleep-deprived country at 61%, followed by Australia at 59% and the United States at 53%.
The UK was also the worst country when ranked for the number of days taken off to catch up on sleep.
On average, the UK only takes four days off a year for this reason. Both the United States and Australia were tied for second place at seven days each.
The impact of not getting enough sleep
The importance of both sleep and relaxation cannot be overlooked. And in fact, having a deficit in one can often lead to the other. For example, not taking the time to relax and unwind can make you more prone to feelings of stress and anxiety. These in turn can be disruptive to sleep, and are known causal factors of insomnia. Not being able to get to sleep can make these feelings worse, creating a viscous cycle.
Even short-term sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing. Extreme tiredness is similar to being drunk, meaning you ability to concentrate and react will worsen. Sleep deprivation can also lead to:
- Lowered tolerance to stress
- Emotional instability
- Cognition issues
- Short-term memory loss
- Decrease in performance
Longer term insomnia can lead to even more symptoms, such as depression, weight gain, reduced heart health and an increased risk of stroke.
Using nature to improve your sleep quality
Many people don’t realise that feeling tired and feeling awake is largely a chemical process. When we’re exposed to natural light, our bodies release a hormone called serotonin, which is associated with feeling positive and energized. Serotonin can also be released by exercising.
Likewise, when we avoid bright lights and stick to soft lighting and sounds as the evening draws on, our bodies release melatonin, which is another hormone which helps us feel tired and relaxed.
Getting outside early in the day can help you feel more rested, while creating the ideal space to spend your evenings can help you feel more tired at the end of the day.
There are numerous benefits to be out in nature during the day, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Less stress and anxiety
- Exposure to sunlight
- Less exposure to electrical light
- Conducive to positive thinking
Create the perfect bedroom space
Creating the perfect bedroom can help you relax as night falls. This room should be cool, dark and free from bright electric screens which can disrupt your body’s natural melatonin release.
In order to give yourself the best chance of sleep, avoid caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime, and enjoy a calming activity like reading or meditation in favour of scrolling through your phone or watching television.
And of course, the perfect night’s sleep requires the perfect mattress.