Sleep matters: Are you getting the quality rest you need?

You’ve probably heard the saying about “waking up on the wrong side of the bed”. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can end up feeling short tempered, physically run down, unable to concentrate, and stressed. 

And as it turns out, it’s more than just a colloquial saying. Research has highlighted there are serious consequences for our bodies when we have poor quality sleep – including increasing our risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Studies have also shown that sleep and mental health share a very important connection. When you invest in healthy sleeping patterns, your emotional wellbeing will thank you. 

Protect against depression and anxiety

Poor sleep is well known to be a risk factor for the development of a range of mental health issues. A study that followed 979 young adults in the US, for example, found that insomnia was associated with a four-fold higher risk of depression 3 years later.

A large review of existing research also discovered that insomnia often precedes the development of not only depression but also bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. The researchers also found a link between insomnia and an increased risk of suicide.

Sharpen your brain function

Everyday, our brain is swamped with new information. Sleep gives our brains some ‘down time’ to process this information and store it as memories for when we need to refer to it later. When you have a good night’s sleep, you’ll notice that your brain feels sharper and you can recall places, names, facts and events far more clearly. Sleep also improves concentration, creativity and assists with learning. 

Strengthen your resilience

Resilience is the ability to manage and cope with life’s challenges. And sleep plays an important role in our capacity to deal with adversity and the demands of a busy life. Neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.

Lower stress levels

According to one sleep survey, 43 percent of people aged 13–64 have reported lying awake at night due to stress at least once in the past month. A bad night’s sleep can make it much more difficult to cope with even the slightest agitation or stressor. This can lead to chronic poor sleep becoming a regular cause of stress in your daily life. On the flip side, research has demonstrated that sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Sticking to a healthy sleep routine calms and restores the body, and enables us to better be able to cope with stress when it comes our way.