Sleep deprivation and the impact it has on your health and wellbeing

about 2 years ago Gemma Bell

​How do you feel after one night of bad sleep? Tired and irritable? Less able to focus and in desperate need for coffee?

If sleep makes you feel better, you are not the only one. It seems like almost seven out of ten people who have some sort of sleep issues are finding it hard to concentrate after just one night of bad sleep, while more than half are so sleepy they cannot complete their work. Moreover, a quarter of British employees say it takes them a couple of days to recover from one bad night’s sleep. This costs companies £40 billion annually in lost productivity!

According to The Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime Report, three-quarters of Brits don’t get the recommended seven hours sleep, 32% of them admit that they sleep poorly and half of them have never taken steps to try and improve their sleep. Worrying stats as sleeping well is crucial to our health and wellbeing!

Here are some more worrying stats that, hopefully, won’t keep you awake at night:

  • one bad night’s sleep affects our mood, concentration and alertness

  • long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues like obesity, arthritis, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia or heart attack

  • an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention

  • if you drive a car when you have had less than five hours’ sleep, you are 4.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash. If you drive having had four hours, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident

  • after one night of four or five hours’ sleep, your cancer killing cells drop by 70%.

  • the lack of sleep is linked to bowel, prostate and breast cancer and will significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

  • in children, sleeplessness has been linked to aggression and bullying

  • in adolescents, the lack of sleep has been linked to suicidal thoughts.

But what happens if you struggle to fall asleep and the stress of daily problems keeps you tossing and turning every night in your bed?

The truth is that the more you try to sleep, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep. Try to unwind before you go to bed, do some mindfulness or relaxation exercises and keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Reading a book is a good way to wind down at the end of the day. More importantly, avoid using your phone and laptop as the emission of blue light from these devices can interfere with the release of melatonin, your sleep hormone. Exercising regularly can also help you fall asleep more quickly. Research shows that people who exercise 5-6 times per week are the least likely to take medication to help them sleep. However, make sure you don’t do any strenuous activity a couple of hours before going to bed as this will make you more alert than sleepy.

Other things you might want to consider is developing a sleep pattern, avoid eating heavy meals late at night and don’t drink alcohol and coffee at least 4 hours before bed time. Caffeine has stimulating properties, and even though people think alcohol has a sleep-inducing effect, it interferes with your natural sleep routine making you feel more tired in the mornings.

If you find yourself still struggling to get a good night sleep even after following the above tips, then maybe you should consider giving cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) a try. This type of psychotherapy can be very effective in addressing insomnia, much more effective than prescription sleep medication. It treats problems by modifying negative thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behaviour. It’s been shown to help 70 to 80% of people with the disorder, which is diagnosed after enduring broken, irregular, or inadequate sleeping habits at least three times a week.

However, the most important tip and advice would be to listen to what your body needs. If you make good sleep a priority, your health, mood and productivity will no doubt benefit.

Read an article by Will Hartfield about ‘Can Lack Of Sleep Cause Hair Loss?’ Click Here