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The importance of sleep and how to get it

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We discuss the impact of sleep on your body and mind, with tips on how to get a better night’s rest

Sleep…elusive sleep. Many of us need more of it, but few of us know how to get it. Here we’ll talk about why sleep is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing and how to get a better night’s rest!

Why sleep?

Most of us need between 6 and 9 hours’ sleep each night. A good night’s sleep can help us focus, stay energised and feel positive. But there are many significant consequences of poor sleep that you may not know about. The odd bad night’s sleep here and there won’t do much harm, though you may find you feel foggy, grumpy or lethargic the following day.

However, if you continually suffer from poor quality or quantity of sleep, this can have a significant and negative impact on your health. Over time, a lack of sleep can contribute to serious conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. You may also find that you’re more prone to colds and infections if your immune system is weakened by a lack of rest.

The best way to tell if you’re getting enough sleep is to assess how you feel during the day. If you’re struggling to stay awake, feeling grumpy, lethargic or generally unwell, you may have put it down to stress or the Winter blues. But the real cause could be a lack of sleep.

How to get better sleep

When it comes to sleep, it’s important to focus on the quality of sleep as well as the quantity.

Quality of sleep depends on a few factors;

  • How quickly you fall asleep
  • How many times you wake during the night
  • The ratio of sleep to wake time

If you struggle to fall, and stay, asleep you may need a more relaxing routine in the evening. You’ll no doubt have heard this many times, but a consistent and quiet bedtime routine makes all the difference.

Try to switch off your phone and laptop in the evening and pick up a book, do something creative or try yoga or meditation. If the thought of these activities makes you roll your eyes, it might be worth doing a bit of research to understand them better - there are good reasons why they are so popular!

Exercise in the day

Has Covid-19 forced you to begin working from home permanently? Do you miss your daily commute? Or do you find you spend long periods of time sitting at your computer before flopping down on the sofa at night, feeling exhausted?

If this sounds like you (or even if it doesn’t) it’s time to get moving! Try to make time for at least half an hour of exercise each day. This could be a walk around your neighbourhood, a home workout, online Hiit class or some Pilates to tone your muscles and improve your core strength.

Not only will you feel better and fitter, you’ll also notice your sleep start to improve.

Make your bedroom a sanctuary

Many healthcare professionals agree that there are only two things you should be doing in your bedroom; sleep and (consensual) sex.

If you use your bedroom for other activities like gaming, working, exercise or anything else, your brain will form an association between your bedroom and being awake. This can make it more tricky to switch off and start feeling sleepy around bedtime.

Try to keep a window open throughout the night, even just a little, to allow fresh air in. Make sure you switch off all plugs and light sources. Also, invest in a good mattress (or the best you can afford) to enhance your sleep and prevent any sleep related aches and pains.

“The average person spends about 26 years sleeping in their life, which equates to 9,490 days or 227,760 hours. Surprisingly, we also spend 7 years trying to get to sleep. That’s 33 years or 12,045 days spent in bed!”

Don’t do it alone

If you’re having any trouble falling or staying asleep, it’s worth speaking to a GP or other healthcare professional for some advice. There might be a medical reason why you can’t sleep well, or you may simply need to adjust your lifestyle and habits to facilitate better sleep.

It’s easy to convince yourself that your sleep will improve by itself, but you may need to take some action to make this possible.

How Vala can help

At Vala Health, our team of highly trained and experienced medical professionals would love to help you sleep well and feel fantastic!

You can book a same day online appointment where we’ll find out more about your sleep habits and lifestyle, then make some suggestions on how you can improve them.

If you sign up to our monthly payment plan, you can benefit from unlimited GP appointments for a whole year, so we can work with you on a regular basis to design and help you manage a dedicated sleep plan.

Click hereto book a same day GP appointment!

Further Reading

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The Top 10 Most Googled Health Questions That Aren't About Coronavirus

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