Posted on June 04, 2020 by Jenny Cromack

A small percentage of just 10% of people prioritise their sleep over everything else such as work, nutrition, socialising and even exercise. Those 10% of people are probably aware of the fact that sleep is the most powerful thing known to man! It’s also a factor in many people’s life that is often severely underestimated and neglected.

Sleep Deprivation

Having a poor sleep routine or lack of sleep is also known as sleep deprivation. Basically, being deprived of sleep! Just one night of sleep deprivation can affect your emotional and working memory, which is no good for everyday functioning let alone working, driving or studying!

Sleep deprivation can occur from just one hour less, or even one night of poor sleep. It can affect factors of the body such as our brain, heart, performance and mood. This can then result in losing your ability to be creative, to be attentive, a reduction in motor skills and a loss of memory. But that’s not all of it! Poor sleep usually accompanies most mood and anxiety disorders too, as well as possibly impairing our immune system and reducing our natural killer cells which therefore resulting in (yep, you’ve guessed it) becoming ill more often.

It’s not just the internal factors which sleep deprivation can affect, we need to consider how it affects us externally too. Exercise and physical performance can also take a hit! Resulting in performance becoming poor and taking a knock-on affect, so no more PBs and no more progress! This may lead to frustration and lack of motivation which then turns into the vicious cycle of…low motivation – less progress – low motivation – even less progress, etc.

Research also shows that elevated levels of cortisol, results in the resilience of the stress response to be affected. Now what is this going to result in? Oh no… potentially increased hunger! But that’s not the worst bit, it’s the fact that lack of sleep affects the food choices we make. Sleep affects and alters our hunger hormone levels. The feeling of hunger increases, but the desire of being active or moving decreases. So, although sleep may not affect weight loss directly, the effects of being sleep deprived will play some part in it.

Now this may all sound scary and even a bit much, but how does it sound that the answer to helping you achieve your results is simply sleep more? I know, I hear you….crazy, that’s how it sounds. Crazy!

Well, the National Sleep Foundation and Sleep Health Foundation both recommend adults to sleep 7-9 hours each day, to stick to a sleep routine and to exercise daily! If you are already hitting your 7-9 hours maybe have a think how good your quality of sleep is. Is it broken? Are you restless? Do you wake up for the bathroom? It’s not just about how much sleep you get….it’s about the quality of sleep which you get. Improve the amount and/or quality of sleep you are getting will help to minimise all of the affects of sleep deprivation which I talked about at the start of this blog.

A quote I love to go by is “Sleep is like the laundry; you wouldn’t take out the laundry 10 minutes early to save time. You have to complete all the cycles in the washing machine! Our sleep cycles have to be completed too; otherwise we wake up feeling like wet and dirty laundry.”

My tips for improving sleep:

  • Reduce screen time and try to remove it completely 30-60 minutes before bed. Try to read a book instead to chill out to or listen to some relaxing music.
  • Spend as little time in your bedroom during the day, you don’t want to work from your bed, you want to associate bed and your bedroom with sleep. If you are working from home at the moment, try to set up your home workspace away from the bedroom.
  • Limit caffeine, it has a half-life meaning it is in your system for quite some time! So, switch to decaf on an evening!
  • Try to complete all your tasks before bed, you don’t want to be laid in bed thinking of the things you never done, or how busy you are! If your mind does race in the night then keep a note book by the bed. If you wake up, then jot what is on your mind in the note book then go back to sleep.
  • Keep your room cool not too hot.
  • Switch your electronic devices to “night mode” this removes blue light which will affect your sleep or alternatively invest in some blue light blockers!
  • Limit liquids before bed to prevent waking up during the night for the bathroom!
  • Get into a routine! Sleep is so important for each individual and let’s be honest really enjoyable! So, practice and work on improving your sleep and then reap the benefits from then on

Interesting in more tips about how to get more sleep? Take a read of this blog about how to get more sleep.