It is easy to be caught up in a great Netflix series, succumb to hours catching up on ‘life admin’ or spend too much time aimlessly scrolling through your social channels at the expense of a good night’s sleep. Our busy lifestyles mean that we sometimes burn the candle at both ends, relying on energy drinks or coffee to help us through the day. Adequate sleep is important to help your body and mind function well. What you may not be aware of is that inadequate sleep can affect your health immensely.
How does poor sleep affect your health?
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends that adults obtain seven to nine hours sleep per day. Without enough sleep, your mental and physical health can be negatively impacted resulting in the following conditions:
- Lack of sleep can alter your mood significantly causing you to feel drowsy, tired or irritable. Sleep deprivation is linked to anxiety and even depression.
- You are less likely to want to socialise with friends or family. You may feel as though you don’t have the alertness or energy required to engage with other people or join in conversations. Not spending time with others can make you feel lonely or even depressed.
- Fatigue can be dangerous when operating machinery or driving. If you are feeling sleepy, stop immediately and rest.
- Hormone levels become erratic increasing your appetite, causing a lack of energy leading to weight gain making you predisposed to diabetes.
- Sleep lowers blood pressure, without it your pressure stays higher for a longer period causing high blood pressure putting you at risk of heart disease or stroke.
- Without sleep, your immune system can become weakened.During the sleep cycle, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines that fight infections.A lack of sleep decreases the release and production of cytokines making you more likely to be affected by viruses and take longer to recover if you are unwell.
These conditions can compound and continue to disrupt your sleep throughout the night. If you find yourself waking up tired or feeling sleepy during the day, your sleep may be interrupted by a problem known as obstructive sleep apnoea.
What is obstructive sleep apnoea?
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which your breathing stops repeatedly throughout the night, sometimes up to a minute. It starts due to a person’s throat blocking whilst they are asleep. Often the person is unaware they have stopped breathing and will not wake from their sleep, or only wake up momentarily and not remember it. People may be affected at any stage of life and it is more common in adults or people who are an unhealthy weight or have a family history.
Symptoms of OSA include snoring, tossing, turning, waking up out of breath and feeling exhausted the next day. Suffering from sleep apnoea can put you at risk of other health problems such as diabetes, strokes, headaches, lack of concentration and memory.
The good news is that treating sleep apnoea will help you achieve a better nights rest and may reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions. Treatment options include: quitting smoking, avoiding sleeping tablets, maintaining a healthy weight and using special devices such CPAP machines to help keep the airways open.
How much sleep do you need?
Different people require a different amount of sleep and as we grow older our needs change. Below is the Sleep Health Foundation’s recommendation per night:
- Newborns (0 – 3 months) 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4 – 11 months) 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 – 2 years) 11 to 14 hours
- Pre-schoolers (3 – 5 years) 10 to 13 hours
- School-aged Children (6 – 13 years) 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 – 17 years) 8 to 10 hours
- Young Adults (18 – 25 years) 7 to 9 hours
- Adults (26 – 64 years) 7 to 9 hours
- Older Adults (above 65 years) 7 to 8 hours
How can I improve my sleep routine?
Here are our tips to help you increase your sleep:
- Wind down before bedtime and turn off electronics.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Avoid afternoon naps if you have night time insomnia
- Get some form of exercise every day
- Keep a regular sleep and wake schedule (including the weekend too!)
As you can see, there are many benefits to being well rested as it improves brain function, coordination and concentration. The effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed and there are treatment solutions if you suffer from sleep apnoea. To receive further advice, click here to locate your nearest Ramsay Pharmacy.