Did you know that we spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping?
That’s a clue as to just how important it is for our health and wellbeing. It’s well-known that lack of sleep can cause grumpiness, clumsiness and make us less likely to perform at our best.
One night of disturbed rest can leave us feeling reluctant to face the day ahead but after several sleepless nights brain fog will set in making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. Chances are the person affected will start to feel down and may fall asleep during the day. It’s a concern that the risk of injury and accidents at home, at work and on the road is also higher.
Long term sleep deprivation is associated with serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and shortens life expectancy.
So it’s clear that a sound night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life. What’s more, it’s recommended that a 17 year old gets 8-10 hours per night.
What happens when we sleep?
You might be resting but there’s a lot going on! This includes; cell and muscle repair as well as regulation of the systems controlling our emotions, weight, heart and immunity.
There’s a theory that sleep is required for our brains to function at their best as it allows our nerve cells to reorganize. When we sleep, our brain’s waste clearance system removes waste from the central nervous system so that we wake up feeling refreshed.
How to have a better night’s sleep
Make sure the conditions are right! This is sometimes called ‘sleep hygiene’- it doesn’t relate to how clean you are-although that’s important too! Winding down is essential so it’s worth trying out these tips before bed:
• Have a warm bath rather than a hot one
• Avoid caffeine too close to bed time
• Write a to-do list for the next day to help clear your mind of any distractions
• Relaxation exercises like light yoga stretches can help but avoid vigorous exercise which can have the opposite effect
• Listen to gentle music or soothing sounds like rainfall
• Avoid using smart phones or other electronic devices as the screen light may have a stimulating effect. Try reading a book or magazine instead.
• Links to apps such as Pzizz which are designed to help improve sleep quality can be found on the NHS Website
(*If you are worried about ongoing sleep issues, contact your doctor.)
In the forces we need to be physically fit, mentally alert and capable of making sound decisions. Sleep keeps us healthy and functioning well, letting our bodies and brains repair, restore, and re-energise. And developing good habits to help ensure we get the best quality shut-eye possible means we will be ready for whatever challenges the day ahead will bring.
Naps are good!
Experts say that teenagers benefit more from naps before dinner than long lie-ins in the morning.
Just remember to avoid snoozing for longer than 45 minutes which could throw off the body’s sleep cycle.
How do you sleep?
We tend to have a favourite sleeping position too.
How many of you lie on your back with your arms at your sides-a common sleep position? This is also known as “The Soldier” and the good news is that it’s a healthy position in terms of your spine and the alignment of your body!
Interesting Sleep Related Fact
The longest recorded period of time anyone has gone without sleep is 11 days!! We wouldn’t recommend it though as lack of sleep is said to be more likely to kill a person than lack of food.
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