When I don’t get enough sleep I go into overwhelm at a moment’s notice. I make endless lists and start tasks. But seldom finish them as I can’t concentrate!
No amount of make up and fake tan is going to compensate for my pallid and dull complexion. Even my favourite ‘go to outfit’ doesn’t look right. Why? Simple if I don’t feel fabulous on the inside I’ll struggle to look and feel right on the outside.
Thankfully this is now a rare occurrence since I left the corporate world. Stress and long haul travel were both major factors that contributed to my lack and poor quality of sleep. But I count myself lucky, as it turns out 75% of us don’t get enough quality sleep.
I asked sleep expert, Rachel McGuinness to give me some insights and some tips on how much is enough sleep and how we improve the quality of our sleep.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
RMcG: Humans are biologically hard wired to need between 7 and 9 hours quality sleep a night. Only 25% of us actually achieve that, most of us ‘survive’ on only 5 to 6 hours sleep.
The odd bad night’s sleep may mean we feel a bit out of sorts the following day and we may look drained with bags appearing under our eyes.
But insufficient quality sleep on a long-term basis can mean we’re at risk of serious long-term consequences.
What Do You Mean By Quality Sleep?
RMcG: Basically the measure of a good night’s sleep is that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
While the current thinking is that we need between 7-9 hours sleep per night, everybody is different. When we sleep our bodies go through different stages of sleep in cycles.
However, the general consensus is that ideally we need 20% of our time asleep to be classified as deep sleep or ‘maintenance mode’.
What Happens When We Sleep?
RMcG: When we sleep properly, our bodies go into a maintenance mode.
Just like a computer; the screen saver is on, but there’s a lot going on in the background!
The body resets its systems and does its updates. The brain processes all the events of the day and puts memories into storage.
Most importantly, your body is repairing cells, muscles and tissues and cleans up the dangerous free radicals that have built up.
The brain and lymphatic tissues flush out the build-up of decaying cells and toxins and regulates and resets our blood pressure, hormones, metabolism and appetite.
So Insufficient Sleep Can Have A Serious Impact On Our Body?
RMcG: Sleep deprivation can lead to higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and strokes. You are also at risk of weight gain and type 2 Diabetes.
It’s likely you will wake up feeling tired, grouchy and hungry. This is because not getting enough sleep plays havoc with the hormones and biochemicals that tell our brain we’ve had enough to eat and supress our appetite.
If you do not get enough sleep your body also releases higher levels of insulin. This means we store more fat and are at risk of developing type 2 Diabetes.
This means we are tempted to reach for carbs and sugar for a quick fix of energy. This is a fast release of energy and you’re likely to come crashing back down, needing another fix.
A lack of quality sleep can also suppress our immune system. This means we’re more at risk or becoming ill as our antibodies are suppressed. We can also take longer to recover from illness.
What Happens To Our Skin When We Don’t Have Enough Sleep?
RMcG: Your skin will also suffer. Your body won’t have been able to clean out all the toxins or balance its hydration.
Consequently you can end up with dry skin, puffy eyes and wrinkles. Let alone those unsightly bags under your eyes.
Sleep deprivation can also reduce your skin’s natural bounce and glow. This happens because our blood flow is decreased. This can increase the risk of redness and breakouts. You may develop acne and other dermatological problems.
If you do not get enough sleep the repair process of your skin will slow down. The result being that you will look older. The term beauty sleep is more than just a Colloquialism!
If We Don’t Have Enough Sleep Can This Impact Our Brain?
Not having enough sleep will leave us feeling sluggish and our concentration suffers. Over a longer period of time not getting enough sleep can lead to depression. It also stifles our creativity.
As you know if you’re feeling sluggish and out of sorts this will impact the way you feel about yourself.
If you don’t feel great on the inside no amount of make up and your favourite outfit is going to make you feel fabulous about yourself. This in turn can affect your self-confidence.
Not getting enough sleep can also be downright dangerous. If our ability to think clearly is impacted just think what this does to our driving!
Lack of a good night’s sleep will also see you regularly hitting the ‘snooze button’ for a few more minutes in bed making you wake up later than you should.
You’ll be in a mad rush against time. Consequently you will probably skip a good breakfast, and skimp on your daily skin routine, makeup and hair!
The chances are you’ll throw on the first thing you find in your wardrobe. That’s not the best way to step out of the house in the morning!
How Do We Make It Easier To Get Enough Sleep?
RMcG: To get a good night’s sleep you need to follow these easy to implement tips:
- Switch off your tech an hour before bed – the blue light makes your body think it’s daytime and will keep you awake and wired.
- Make sure your bedroom is relaxing, cool and airy.
- Cut down on stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
- Do something relaxing before bedtime – TV thrillers and stressful news programmes will stop your brain switching off.
- Get into a regular bedtime and wake up time, even at weekends to ensure you get your 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep.
About Rachel McGuinness
Rachel is a health and well being expert who inspires, educates and motivates busy professional people who want to get healthy, but don’t have time to work it out for themselves.
She focuses on two areas essential for optimum health and survival – eating smart and sleeping well. She helps her clients to:
- Wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start their day
- Have loads more energy
- Lose weight healthily and maintain it
- Look incredible
- Feel amazing
Facebook and Twitter: @zestlifestyle Instagram: @zestylady Linked In: Rachel McGuinness
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