Why Sleep is so Important for our Mental and Physical Health?
We spend 1/3 of our lives in state of unconscious sleep. Sleep is an essential living function that recharges your body and mind and helps the body remain healthy, clearing toxic wastes from the brain. Sleeping well has a plethora of benefits; it helps to improve your concentration, learning ability, working memory, metabolism, immune system, and heart functioning. However, evidence suggests that 51% (6 out of 10) of adults worldwide have problems getting the recommended amount of sleep (8 hours) and 11% of people in the U.K. say they never get a decent night’s rest.
Not getting enough sleep negatively affects our mental ability and emotional state, often making us feel extremely lethargic, frustrated, unmotivated and unproductive. So, no wonder people hit the snooze button to try and prolong their sleeping period to try and feel more rested. However, the majority of the time, hitting the snooze button actually has the opposite effect.
The Scientific Effects of Hitting Snooze
Research reveals that hitting the snooze button prevents our bodies from getting the restorative sleep that we need. The scientific reasoning for this is that we sleep in a cycle of around 90 minutes that consists of 4 stages:
1. Light Sleep
2. Intermediate Sleep
3. Deep Sleep
4. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep
In order to feel fully rested and recharged, we need to spend enough time in the REM sleep cycle which is important for renewal of energy. However, pressing snooze deprives the body of our REM sleep which disturbs our overall sleep cycle. Awakening during REM sleep can cause our instinctual ‘fight or flight’ response, increasing blood pressure and heartbeat which may explain why we feel so tense and irritable when our alarm goes off. Hitting the snooze also allows you to fall back into light sleep which fragments your sleeping pattern and therefore makes you feel much groggier and fatigued.
1. Try and get to bed earlier
Experts reveal that effective and productive functioning of the mind and body is after 7-8 hours of sleep a night. When setting your alarm, you should bare this in mind.
2. Ensure you have good sleep hygiene
To ensure a good quality night’s sleep, create good sleep habits through different practices, such as making your bed comfortable, using softer lighting in your bedroom, keeping the room quiet and finding a comfortable temperature.
3. Put your alarm clock out of reach
We have definitely all heard this tip before, but putting your alarm clock the other side of the room makes you physically get out of bed. The trick is to avoid going back to bed after!
4. Set an alarm you are happy to wake up to
No one likes the sounds of a screeching or loud, annoying alarm. Switching the alarm tone to a song you might like, or soothing music may help you wake up slower and more calmly.
5. Turn on the lights
Turning on the lights mimics the rising of the sun which should help your body clock naturally wake up.
6. Remove any blue lights from technology
The blue light from electronic devices interrupts your sleep cycle as it suppresses the body’s release of melatonin that makes you sleepy. Most smart devices have a ‘night mode’ which protects the effects of blue light. The best thing to do though is to restrict screen time before bed to get the most beneficial sleep.