why can't I sleep?

Why You Need Sleep to Restore Your Body

Many of my clients and attendees at my retreats tell me they're so busy and stressed, they sleep around six hours per night; but that's OK right? Wrong. Evidence on the biochemical changes that occur during sleep is mounting, meaning sleep is more important than we ever realised!

I asked one of the experts to tell all of you about the importance of sleep - check it out!

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Sleep provides time to heal, recharge and restore the body, yet many people view rest as a luxury rather than a necessity. Many adults don't sleep the recommended seven hours each night. By making sleep a priority and developing good sleep hygiene, you can get the restorative sleep you need to be physically and mentally at your best.

Sleep Deprivation Puts a Stop to Your Healing Abilities

The body has amazing abilities to heal and restore itself but needs time in which to do it. A study published in Sleep Medicine measured the levels of proteins necessary for muscle recovery and correlated it to the subjects’ amount of sleep. Lack of sleep suppressed showed a slower healing process in all aspects of your biology.

The immune system also takes a serious hit during sleep deprivation.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University explored the effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system by examining susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep deprived people were more likely to catch a cold.

Those that slept less than seven hours were nearly three times as likely to get sick.

It wasn’t just how much time they slept but the quality of their sleep as well. Participants who frequently woke during the night were also more susceptible to illness. The immune system needs rest to not only fight off infection but to recharge itself for full daytime functionality.

what is the main reason you need sleep?

How to Get Better, More Restorative Sleep

The benefits of sleep come from spending enough hours in bed and from high-quality sleep. You can improve the restorative nature of your sleep by developing good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene means that you:

  • Keep a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule 

Your body relies on regular 24-hour biological and physiological cycles called circadian rhythms to control your sleep-wake cycle. By keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule, that means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you acclimate your brain and body to your natural rhythms. Consequently, the brain will release sleep hormones automatically because it knows what time you need to fall asleep.

  • Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines are particularly important for those who have a hard time falling asleep. A routine can trigger the release of sleep hormones and provide time to relieve any stress or tension before bed. It should include activities that calm and relax you. Try to perform your bedtime routine at the same time and in the same order each day.  

  • Turn Off Screens Early

The bright light from televisions and smartphones can suppress sleep hormones, making it hard to fall asleep. Try shutting them off at least two to three hours before bed to prevent a sleep delay.

  • Eat Healthy, Regularly Spaced Meals

A well-balanced diet helps improve all aspects of your life. However, it’s not just what you eat but when you eat it that affects your sleep-wake cycle. Try to eat at the same times each day and keep your meals regularly spaced. Avoid heavy high-fat foods close to bedtime.

Sleep gives your body the time it needs to restore and heal itself. When you make sleep a priority, you’re giving yourself a natural boost to your mental and physical health.

About this Guest author:

Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favourite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.

Top 5 reasons you’re not getting enough sleep

In modern society, we’re sleeping less than ever before with almost one in two people surviving on six hours or less sleep a night. In 1942 that number was less than 8% of the population. Why are we sleeping less than ever before?

Stunning bedrooms at Wellness Retreat Svarga Loka, Bali 

Stunning bedrooms at Wellness Retreat Svarga Loka, Bali 

1. Longer commutes

Housing prices and urban sprawl mean people are commuting for longer than ever. Rather than skip a cup of tea with their partners though, most people are foregoing sleep to maintain the same amount of interaction with their families.

5 reasons you can't sleep

2. Screen time past lights out

If you relish an end of the day catch up on your favourite Instagram accounts when your head is on the pillow, you’re starving your body of melatonin. Melatonin is the snazzy hormone that says ‘time to sleep’ and inducts your body into its sleep-ready state.

3. Saying “I’m busy” is a new trend

If you’re really busy, you’re probably not sleeping very much. Sadly, ‘being busy’ has become a badge of honour. In 2018 you’re far more likely to hear the man on the train next to you saying “I’m just so busy this week’ instead of ‘I had the best, longest sleep last night.’

Check out this story of how a Kiwi woman transitioned from busyness to calm here.

top reasons you're not sleeping enough

4. Caffeine is part of our daily routine

Coffee is delicious, but it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which triggers the ‘fight or flight’ part of the brain, instead of the ‘rest and digest’ system that helps relax us. If you’re constantly ready to fight off a bear thanks to caffeine-induced adrenaline, you’re unlikely to be sleeping well.

Learn more about how too much caffeine can cause you to be 'Accidentally Anxious' below:

5. We’re always available thanks to tech

When your boss sends an urgent email at 9pm, you can’t really ignore it in this day and age. Luckily for most people, urgent late-night emails aren’t a reality, however most of us voluntarily check work emails and documents after leaving the office. By always being available, we’re less able to switch off our brains from ‘problem solving work mode’ to rest and relaxation mode that helps prepare us for sleep. 

Here's the good news

By making a small change to your lifestyle and any of the things above, you can make a huge change to your sleep and energy levels.

Learn what small changes can make the greatest difference below:

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What do you think makes it hard for you to sleep?