The importance of a good night's sleep and how to get one
Not getting a good night’s sleep is a problem many of us have and often continue to ignore. As March is National Bed Month, we wanted to share the importance of getting the best rest you can each night and provide some tips and advice for successful slumber. According to the NHS, one in 3 of us across the UK suffer from poor sleep, whether this is due to stress, work, lifestyle or our own personal choice. Sleep is an important part of our health, and without enough of it, we’re not only at risk of being tired and grumpy, but causing serious damage to our physical wellbeing and putting ourselves at risk of serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Regular poor sleep can also shorten life expectancy. What’s more, if you’re currently feeling more tired and sluggish that usual, you could be suffering from spring asthenia. This is usually defined as a constant state of exhaustion and fatigue caused by the changing season and associated with excess sunlight. Along with fatigue, asthenia can also be accompanied by feelings of sadness and, in some cases, mild depression. It’s therefore important that you’re making a conscious effort to regularly get the best night’s sleep you can. So in support of National Bed Month this March, we wanted to share some tips and advice to help you get the good night’s sleep you deserve. What is officially classed as a “good night’s sleep”? As we sleep, our bodies rest and repair, replenishing stores, making preparations for the upcoming day, and putting to rest the memories and experiences from the day before. To do this successfully, we are recommended to sleep for a certain amount of time depending on how old we are. For most adults, its recommended that 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night is needed. In our recommended hours of sleep, our body needs to go through four stages to successfully rest: NREM, NREM1, NREM2 and NREM3. The first phase is a light state of sleep, and each phase sinks the body in to a deeper relaxed state until it is harder to awaken and we have dreams. Each sleep cycle lasts around one and a half hours and are vital to feel fully rested, so it’s very important to give your body enough time to see through each stage. Why is a good night's sleep important? According to the NHS, a good night’s sleep is important to our physical and mental wellbeing for several reasons: 1. Sleep can help prevent weight gain Many believe that the more you are awake, the more calories you will burn, but this is incorrect. Those who sleep for less than the recommended 8 hours a day are more likely to gain weight and run a higher risk of becoming obese as they produce less of the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin), and more of the hunger-stimulating hormone (ghrelin). 2. Sleep can prevent diabetes When you miss out on a deep sleep on a regular basis, it can change the way your body processes glucose, and if glucose isn’t processed, your body in turn can’t produce energy. The glucose will also remain in your blood until there is too much, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 3. Sleep wards off heart disease Long-standing sleep deprivation seems to be associated with increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation, which may put extra strain on your heart. 4. Sleep can boost your immune system While your body is resting, it produces and releases a protein called cytokine which fights infection. If you skimp on sleep your body will have a reduced defensive barrier, making you more susceptible to illnesses, such as the flu. 5. Sleep can improve mental wellbeing Quoting from the mental health charity, Mind, "Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That's a horrible place to be." Not getting enough sleep skews our ability to regulate our emotions and can be one of the first signs of distress, whilst common mental health problems like anxiety and depression can often underpin sleep problems. Getting good-quality, regular sleep is therefore important for our mind as well as our body. Tips for getting a good night’s sleep Getting the right bed As we spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, it's crucial we have one that is right for us. However, it’s not only finding the suitable style and function of a bed that is important, but also the right mattress. A mattress is a huge factor in our ability to sleep well, yet many people overlook its importance and keep using a mattress that fails to provide enough support and comfort. Sleep Foundation have produced this article on how to choose the right mattress. Getting the right bedtime routine A relaxing bedtime routine can assist you in drifting off. A nice warm bath or shower will soothe and lead you on the path to unwind and relax. Swapping electronic devices for a great book and turning the TV off helps your mind to switch off too. In order to not only have a full night’s sleep, but a restful night’s sleep, there are some great little rituals you can incorporate into your daily life that can make a huge difference. We spoke to the Director of our upcoming spa and wellness centre at Scalesceugh Hall & Villas, Anne Craig, for her top tips for a good bedtime routine: Tip 1) Daily Stretching “My first tip for preparing your body for a good night’s sleep is daily stretching. A five-minute full body stretch out before getting into bed is a great way to start relaxing the muscles so they rest well when you finally lay down to sleep. I personally do this when I wake up and before I go to bed each day. Us adults tend to hold most of our stress tension in our shoulders so self-massage of the shoulders before bed is also a good way to release some tension.” Tip 2) Yoga “A brief 10-15 minute yoga session (for those new to yoga) prior to an hour of getting into bed is also a great way to relax the body to aid a restful night’s sleep. Yoga improves strength and balance but it also works on deep breathing and slow movements that increase blood flow and warm up the muscles. The deep breathing that yoga brings is great in ensuring you are breathing correctly and really using your lungs.” 3) Essential Oils “An effective and simple approach to getting that great night’s sleep is to use essential oils. Be it a few drops swirled in the bath, in a diffuser, or even on your pillow at night, essential oils can be a great way of aiding relaxation, de-stressing your body and mind, and improving your sleep quality.” “As much as I like lavender (which is great for aiding a restful night’s sleep) it can sometimes not be a scent that everyone likes. If lavender is not for you, there are a few other essential oils that work just as well, if not better!” “Peppermint is a fantastic oil to try, not only is it great at improving your quality of sleep but an American scientific trial proved that it has positive effects on improving insomnia too. Not only will drinking a cup of peppermint tea help sleep but it also improves digestion and concentration, so a winner all round!” “Vanilla is a great oil to use. Beauty products containing vanilla are proven to reduce the startle reflex, ease breathing and calm the mind. It has a very warm and cosy aroma that can be nostalgic, often making people think of their childhoods.” “Finally, a personal favourite of mine, jasmine is a sweet smelling essential oil that can reduce disrupted sleep and make you feel less anxious. This in turn helps you feel more relaxed and refreshed when you wake.” You can find more blogs with advice related to beauty, health and wellness on our spa website - The Spa by AB Living - which is located within the Scalesceugh Hall estate.