Catching some Z’s… the health benefits of sleep

There’s nothing like getting a good night’s sleep. But it often receives lower billing than guidelines on regular exercise, healthy diet and alcohol consumption, despite being just as important for our physical and mental health.

Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) suggests four in ten people don’t get enough sleep, and one in five sleeps poorly most nights. On average we may be under-sleeping by an hour a night, which adds up to almost a full night’s sleep every week.

Why is sleep so important?
Researchers have concluded that a lack of sleep is associated with diabetes, depression, obesity, heart attacks and cancer. Sleep maintains the natural 24-hour rhythms which all our cells respond to. Being sleep deprived can increase the risk of chronic illnesses, while upping the chances of tiredness-related accidents.

Who is most at risk of a bad night’s sleep?
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is common in our society as we balance stress, work and lifestyle demands. A third of the public say they have felt depressed from poor sleep, according to the RSPH. But those with certain occupations or lifestyles may find it harder to get a decent sleep – e.g. people who work shifts or get up early for a long commute, parents with small children, and those who live with a sleep disorder.

How can you improve the quality of your rest?
Identify the cause of your sleep deprivation:
 Sometimes the reason for not getting enough sleep is obvious, such as caring for a young child. It’s imperative to ask for help and manage your duties in order to get enough hours, as effects such as clumsiness and forgetfulness do not mix well with caring for a child.

Avoid using electronic devices: If you look at a light-emitting device before bed, you may well take longer to fall asleep, feel less sleepy and be less alert in the morning. Young people are particularly likely to suffer as they are pressured to stay up late with peers.

Make time for it: Squeezing in relaxing evening activities is difficult if you also have a long work shift or commute, and it would seem people are sacrificing sleep in order to fit everything in. This might seem like a good idea at the time, but late nights combined with early mornings can seriously impact your health.

Talk to your employer: If your shift pattern is causing complications, talk to your employers. They have a duty to make sure you are not suffering, and should ensure you have time periods when you can catch up on sleep.

Seek treatment: If you have trouble sleeping for 3 or more nights per week, for at least 3 months and your difficulty sleeping is troubling you, it could be time to consider whether you have a sleep disorder. These can be brought on by a variety of physical disorders, such as breathing problems, or psychological disorders which can both be treated with a range of therapies and medications.

Many of these treatments can be paid for using health insurance. For more information, check the details of your policy with R Collins & Co on 01977 558391. To arrange a personal health insurance plan which works for you, get in touch today.