A Guide to The Importance of Sleep

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. There is no ‘magic number’ when it comes to the amount of hours you should sleep each night.
  2. What is important is that you recognise how much sleep you need and then making sure you get this on a regular basis.
  3. Just as too little sleep can affect your mental and physical wellbeing, so too has too much sleep been linked with a heightened risk of a range of health conditions.
  4. Getting the right amount of sleep for you will mean that you remain sharp right through the day, allowing you to concentrate on your work or studies.
  5. People who get enough sleep also tend to look brighter and enjoy a more positive outlook on life.
  6. Not getting enough sleep, meanwhile, can have a number of undesirable consequences, including drowsiness, reduced productivity, grumpiness and a can lead to a heightened risk of high blood pressure and depression.
  7. Avoiding caffeine in the evenings, setting the bedroom aside solely for sleep and exercising in the day are all good ways of ensuring you get the sleep you need.

How Much Sleep is Enough?

There is no fixed rule as to how much sleep a person should have. After all, the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Edison famously got by with just four hours a night, while Winston Churchill needed at least eight or nine.

However, the general consensus is that a typical adult will need eight hours sleep every 24 hours in order to feel healthy, fresh and alert, though again this is by no means universal. At the same time, the National Sleep Foundation in the US warns that enjoying nine hours or more sleep a night could increase the risk of a range of illnesses.

As an adult, you should be able to tell how much sleep you need to not only function but to stay healthy and feeling fresh. The importance is recognising your body’s own needs and then making sure these are met.

Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

There are a number of good reasons you should get the sleep your body needs on a regular basis.

Above all, getting the right amount of sleep for you will mean that you remain sharp right through the day, allowing you to concentrate on your work or any other activities you may be engaged in, while it will also make you feel more energetic and positive about things. Furthermore, getting enough sleep has long been credited by scientists as an effective means of staying healthy as it is believed to reduce the risk of a number of serious conditions, among them diabetes, obesity and even depression. As a result, those who sleep well as less likely to make claims on, and therefore up the price of their health insurance plans.

One other advantage of making sure you get enough sleep is that tiredness if far from attractive. Indeed, a tired face is more prone to wrinkles and puffiness, so make sure you look your best each day by getting the shut-eye your body needs.

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep can have a number of undesirable consequences. Most obviously, it can lead to drowsiness, affecting your ability to concentrate on your work or studies and reducing your productivity levels. Additionally, feeling tired can also lead to grumpiness, affecting your social life as well.

Furthermore, failing to get sufficient sleep on a regular basis can have even more serious consequences. For instance, a number of studies have linked sleep apnoea and other disorders with heightened risks of conditions such as stress, depression and high blood pressure, as well as an increased likelihood of substance abuse. Moreover, being tired also increases the likelihood of accidents, with this being potentially fatal if you fail to get enough sleep before driving or operating machinery.

Tips for Enjoying a Good Night’s Sleep

The stresses of modern life, coupled with the demands imposed by having a work, family and social life can make it hard to get enough sleep. Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take to help make sure you wake up feeling fresh, though if you still struggle to drop off, consult your GP for advice. Top tips include:

  • Avoid caffeine after dinner. This doesn't mean just coffee or tea it includes chocolate, and soft drinks too; opt for a milky drink instead.
  • Take time out to relax before bedtime. Avoid scary or action-packed films that may keep your mind working.
  • Try and make sure your bedroom remains a sanctuary for sleeping. So, avoid putting a TV in there or taking your laptop to bed.
  • Make sure that the environment is just right for sleeping. That is, make sure it’s neither too hot nor too cold and, if necessary, invest in a good-quality mattress.

Further Reading

  • Learn more about the importance of getting enough sleep with the help of the Sleep Council.
  • A wealth of information on insomnia in available from the Sleep Association.
  • One way to help ensure you get a good night’s sleep is to ensure you tire yourself out. Read our guide to exercise for more.

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