Sleep: the constant that we need

It is in times like these, when the world is pervaded by uncertainty and change, that we need a sanctuary to rest, a place to rejuvenate our minds and strengthen our mental spirit for the testing day ahead. This sanctuary is sleep, and in today’s blog, we will be discussing the importance of a good night’s sleep in these testing times.

Sleep is one of the four key pillars of health, alongside exercise, nutrition, and stress management. A good balance across these four key pillars, is the perfect foundation to enable you to live a healthy, happy, and productive life. Yet if you are in the large majority of people like I used to be, sleep is the first habit that goes into the bin when we do not have enough time to fit everything in! Sleep is also significantly less appetising when we are riddled with problems that we think we need to solve or when faced with anxiety about the future, which is especially relevant due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But just for a moment, I would like you to reconsider just how important getting a good night’s rest is to your mental wellbeing and to your ability to realise the full potential of the day ahead of you.

If I told you that you were consistently doing something that was making you moody, low in energy, unproductive and drained of optimism and that this could be significantly improved with just 1 to 1.5 hours a day of time commitment, you would bite my hand off to find out what this improvement mechanism was! Yet this improvement mechanism is there for all of us to access on a nightly basis, through sleeping an appropriate amount (7 – 9 hours a night, this amount is different for everyone) and also by practicing good and simple healthy sleeping habits.

During sleep, the cells in our body repair and rebuild, our hormones that dictate our appetite and energy are regulated in order to optimise performance for the following day, and neurotransmitters that play a major role in our mood are replenished. When you consistently sleep for less time than your body requires, you are selling yourself short. You are throwing the delicately balanced systems of the human body out of whack and you are giving yourself an uphill battle to have a successful day from the moment you wake up. We can all relate to the feeling of having a big gym session planned or a to do list that is as long your arm, which is made 10 times harder by the fact that you have only had 6 hours of sleep.

It is in times like these, when we do not know what tomorrow will bring, or how to spend our endless free time whilst in quarantine, that we require strong and consistent habits to keep us sane and to strengthen our mental wellbeing. Good sleep is the foundational habit that will give you the energy and optimism to face the day ahead and to tackle all your other habits and endeavours.

Have an amazing day and sleep well!

Dr Rich