World Sleep Day is a global event which takes place annually – this year on Friday 13 March. It is designed as a celebration of sleep and a call to action, encouraging everyone to maximise the positive benefits which a good night’s sleep promises to health and well-being.
It is now well recognised that getting the right amount of sleep is no longer simply peripheral to health, it is vital. Scientists have discovered that humans can survive three times longer without food than without sleep. Increasingly, as the third pillar of health, sleep is now recognised as important as exercise and a balanced diet, if not more. It is essential to help us to maintain our health and to perform in the face of the multiple pressures of everyday work and life.
So, what are the main benefits of sleep shown by new research? Here are five essential benefits which should make us wake up (pun intended) and think more seriously about how to improve the quality of our sleep.
One important research finding is the link between better sleep and attentiveness and performance in a range of contexts. When we sleep well, we wake up with a better ability to concentrate, increased ability to perform complex cognitive and physical task and we can maintain a high level of performance for a longer period. Due to the positive link between sleep and performance TEMPUR has a strong relationship with high-performance athletes and sleep and recovery are a key to success.
The inverse is also true. Studies have shown the hugely damaging effects of sleep deprivation on the performance of a range of tasks. For parents concerned about their children’s learning at school, sleep patterns show a clear correlation between the quality of sleep and academic performance.
Loss of sleep, even for a few short hours during the night can trigger key cellular pathways which produce tissue-damaging inflammation according to new research. Several findings suggest that a good night’s sleep can ease the risk of both heart disease and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. For those at risk of such diseases, a good night’s sleep can become a lifesaver. TEMPUR products have a unique makeup that adapts and conforms to the body. This material is a great addition to a positive sleep routine to help aim the benefits of a good nights sleep.
Sleep was designed in evolutionary terms to allow the body to rest, repair, regenerate, and recover. Good sleep routines allow the body to maintain a powerful immune system which helps the body fight off infection. Studies show that a lack of sleep will increase your risk of falling sick after exposure to a virus and can slow down your recovery significantly. A night of good sleep promotes the immune system to release cytokines into the body, which are essential in the fight against infection or inflammation. Cytokines are small secreted proteins released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells. Sleep deprivation decreases the production of these bug-busting cytokines.
The benefits of sleep extend beyond physical health into mental health as well. The correlation between sleep and mental health has been the subject of research for many years, with investigations discovering strong links between a lack of sleep and depression. A major study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry concludes that people with a range of sleep disorders including insomnia are likely to show signs of depression.
More broadly speaking, the importance of sleep extends into our relationships and interactions with others. Research is now showing evidence that links people’s levels of emotional and social intelligence to the quality of their sleep. Not getting adequate sleep means we are less likely to be able to attend to others’ emotions and needs and could contribute to a lack of empathy which may undermine collaboration in the workplace and personal relations at home.
All in all, it seems safe to say that sleep matters and it should matter more to all of us if we want to seize the benefits which a healthy sleep routine can offer. What are you going to do today to make sure you get a better night’s sleep tonight?
Author: Sveti Williams, Sleep Technologist, author of ‘Fix My Sleep’ and official delegate of World Sleep Day.
For further information and tips on getting a great night’s sleep from Sveti, visit her website for a free sleep assessment.
If your current bedding products are letting you down, visit a TEMPUR stockist to find out how TEMPUR can improve your sleep routine.
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Besedovsky, L., et al. (2012). Sleep and immune function.
Guadagni, V., et al. (2014). The effects of sleep deprivation on emotional empathy. [Abstract].
Hayley, A. C., et al. (2015). The relationships between insomnia, sleep apnoea and depression: Findings from the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008. [Abstract]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25128225/