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The importance of sleep

Why is sleep so important?

I'm sure many of you are aware of the importance of sleep, but are you aware just how much impact sleep has on our lives and how we feel?

Sleep gives our bodies and brains chance to restore its chemicals and hormones, allowing us to wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Various chemicals are involved with sleep, one of the most important being serotonin, the mood enhancer. Not only that, it helps to produce the chemical related directly to sleep, melatonin. Melatonin helps control sleep and wake cycles and usually rises in the late evening which is why people feel tired at night.

According to science, sleep happens in stages. The first being stage 1, consisting of light sleep in which we drift in and out of. Stage 2 is where our eye movement stops, followed by stage 3 and 4 where complete eye movement and muscle activity stops. This is also known as deep sleep. Good sleep usually consists of uninterrupted rest in which your muscles are relaxed. By the time you wake in the morning you should feel rejuvenated and stimulated ready to start the day!

But how do we achieve good sleep?

Sleep hygiene is the practice in which different techniques are used to promote relaxation and good quality sleep. Some useful tips include:

Creating a bedroom full of zen

Zen is practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam and comes from the word 'dhyana' meaning 'meditation'. Creating zen in the bedroom means turning the room into a stress free zone, where it is dark, clean, cosy and free from technology. Spraying the room with relaxing scents like lavender can also promote a positive atmosphere for sleep.

Remove technology

Technology like phones and TV's radiate LED light which stimulates brain activity meaning trying to get to sleep is extremely difficult. Not only that, social media can sometimes cause emotions leaving us feeling worked up, angry or excited making it even harder to achieve meaningful sleep. It is best to remove all technology from bedrooms to stop the temptation of picking up your mobile or turning on the TV!

Bedtime routine

After a long day at work, it is essential to unwind. Unwinding can take the form of many activities including reading a book, having a bath, listening to music or podcasts or even spending time with a loved one. All of these activities can help a person relax, getting themselves ready for a night of optimal sleep.

Better sleep equals better minds!

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