Sleep may not be a popular topic when health is brought up, but poor sleep can actually result in some major health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
In 2013, it was reported that the average hours sleep per night was 6.8, which is a whole hour less in comparison to 1942, and in Britain, 27% of people claim to experience poor sleep regularly.
This goes to show how important it is for more people to be educated on having a good night’s sleep and the ways in which we can improve our sleep habits.
But before we talk about improving sleep, what exactly is making our sleep worse?
Causes of poor quality sleep
Too much screen time – did you know that it is recommended to turn off screens such as smartphones, laptops and LED lights 30 minutes to two hours before bed time?
Blue light is emitted from smart phones and computer screens, and can be damaging to your body clock and energy levels.
Too much exposure to blue light before bedtime leads to a decrease in melatonin – a sleep-related hormone. This is why TV and video games are advised to be switched off some time before sleep.
Blue light and mental engagement in screens before bed can make the brain feel too stimulated to fall asleep straight away, leading to restlessness when trying to sleep.
Lower health levels – According to the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index™, 67% of people who claimed to have ‘poor’ or ‘only fair’ health reported less than good sleep quality.
Alarmingly, 35% of Americans claimed to wake up and not feel refreshed, even when sleeping within the norms of 7-8 hours sleep per night.
Results from the study also showed that high stress and low life satisfaction were linked to poor sleep quality. This just goes to show how significant your lifestyle can affect your sleep quality.
Anxiety and Stress – having a stressful and anxious lifestyle can take you longer to fall asleep, resulting in feeling groggy and lower functioning the next day.
Anxiety and stress is crucial to cut out, because once sleep quality is affected, the body boosts its number of stress hormones.
This has consequences for the way you feel the next day and can even make it harder to fall asleep over the coming nights.
Sleeping disorders – have you ever considered that you might have a sleep-related disorder?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night which can interrupt sleep.
Other disorders include Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder (RBD), Insomnia and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.
Improving our sleep
So now we know some of the reasons why we might not be having a good night’s sleep, how can we make the first step forward to sleeping better and feeling refreshed the next day?
- To prevent us from too much exposure to blue light, try turning off screens 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed time, or keep screens out of your bedroom. Additionally, before bed you can try wind down activities such as reading a book, having a bath, meditating and writing to name a few.
- Taking up exercise is a great way to maintain overall health and research has shown it can reduce stress too. Increasing exercise can reduce stress, which in turn can lead to healthier sleep, and it can also help regulate circadian rhythms – in other words, our body clock.
- Speak to a professional – if you think you could be suffering with a sleep-related disorder, it’s time to talk to a doctor.
At HealthUnlocked we offer help too. Here you can find a link to our Sleep Matters community, where you can find and connect with people who are going through similar health experiences as you.
For more helpful advice on sleep, we have another blog article: – 10 ways to protect against insomnia.