It is important we lessen the burden of sleep problems through prevention and management of sleep disorders. Adults should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. However around one third still get inadequate sleep.
Our bodies have an internal clock that makes us feel sleepy at night and awake during the day known as a ‘circadian rhythm.’ This clock influences sleep and other bodily functions like hormone levels, body temperature, and metabolism: when this clock tells the body to sleep, a hormone known as melatonin takes over.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep is vital to our health. Most of us will have missed an occasional night’s sleep that makes us feel very tired and irritable the next day, but it generally doesn’t harm our health. But after several sleepless nights, the mental and physical effects may become more serious.
Brain fog will make it difficult for us to concentrate and make decisions. We may start to feel tired and may fall asleep during the day. Our risk of injury and accidents at home, work and while driving will significantly increase.
If sleep deprivation continues, lack of sleep can affect our overall health and make us prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. It is important we get more sleep.
The effects of prolonged sleep deprivation cannot be reversed with a single early night. If we’ve had months of restricted sleep, we’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, and recovery will take several weeks.
Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or 2 of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning. We can expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first.
After a while, the amount of time we sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level. Sleep is as important as exercise and diet to our overall health. ‘World Sleep day’ is a reminder to us of the importance of sleep problems and its associated wide-ranging health and social issues.