Sleep is vital for our physical and mental health – a time for our body to repair itself. Good quality sleep is as important as eating a balanced diet, reduced stress and exercise are to our physical and mental health. Dr Lynda Shaw, neuroscientist, business psychologist and change specialist spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to discuss four sleep facts you may not be aware of.
“The average person needs between seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a night,” said Dr Shaw.
She continued: “Nearly half (48 percent) of UK adults report that they don’t get enough sleep. with 23 percent only having five hours a night.
“Two thirds (67 percent) of UK adults regularly experience disrupted sleep.
“A night or two of poor sleep won’t harm you, but long-term sleep deprivation will lower your quality of life and put you at risk of serious medical conditions, as well as make you feel moody, impair your concentration and problem-solving skills, increase your risk of depression and you may develop relationship and work issues.”
Essential for work
Sleep is essential for brain function as it is when we consolidate information and memories from the day, and improves memory, performance, problem solving and creativity, said Dr Shaw.
She advised: “Forcing your brain to work well into the night at the cost of proper sleep is not conducive to well-being nor career success.”
Sleep helps learning by helping you concentrate and learn new information, consolidate memories and establishes stronger communications between brain cells.
Dr Shaw said: “This means information is transmitted from one part of the brain to another more efficiently, improving your ability to recall the information you’ve learnt.
“Studies have found that sleep helps us to preserve our greatest memories and downgrade those that are of lesser importance.
“Without sufficient sleep, our brains will almost certainly find it more difficult to distinguish between the two.”
If you’re having difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime touring will help you wind down and prepared for bed, according to the NHS.
The health body advises: “First of all, keep regular sleeping hours. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
“Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
“It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.”
Making sure you wind down before sleep, for example having a warm bath, doing relaxation exercises, or reading, and making sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly (dark, quiet and tidy and at a temperature better 18C and 24C) is also advised.