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Why not sleeping is KILLING you!

Did you know the average person spends 26 years of their life asleep?

You would think that for something that we do so often, we all would be experts at it by now, unfortunately that is not the case. Over 50% of Australian’s, which is more than 1 in every 2 people, regularly experience at least one sleep symptom such as trouble falling asleep or waking up too early. A good quality night sleep is essential to power the brain and body to help prevent and reduce risk of the development of chronic health conditions, accidents and even death occurring! This blog will take a deep dive into just how bad not getting a good sleep can be for your health and some ways to get your sleep back on track !

Shocking Sleep Stats:

  • Sleep deprivation is costing Australian economy a whopping $66.3 billion a year in health and indirect costs.

  • 40% sleep-deprived Australians die of heart diseases and diabetes.

  • 20% Australians have fallen asleep while driving and 5% of these have met with a car accident.

  • Almost 80% Australians report being less productive after sleeping poorly.

  • 3,017 Australians died of sleeplessness between 2016 and 2017, Deloitte Access Economics found in a study commissioned by Sleep Health Foundation.

Sleep Deprivation: Impact on our Health

Many studies have shown sleep deprivation to have several negative impacts on our health both short and long term. These combined with the shocking stats should be enough to let you know that not sleeping really is killing you!

Short Term:

  • Increased stress response i.e. decreased ability for the body to enter critical stage of rest and recovery

  • Somatic issues e.g. increased headaches, reports of pain

  • Psychological issues e.g. emotional distress, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, decreased cognition and memory

  • Other e.g. decreased productivity, decreased reaction times

Long Term:

  • an extensive list of chronic health conditions including dementia, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease and weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes. Evidence suggests that sleep disruption may increase the risk of certain cancers and death.

Sleep Guidelines

For adults aged 26-64 years old the recommended amount of sleep required is 7-9 hours, 6-10 may be appropriate but less than 6 and more than 10 is not recommended and can be detrimental. Many people attempt to get away with less sleep than needed and often develop compensatory habits to counter this such as reliance on caffeine or other stimulants.

Dreamy tips for a good night’s sleep 💤

These dreamy tips come from the neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker.

  1. Regularity - having a non-negotiable sleep and wake time. This will help improve both sleep quality and quantity. Even on the weekends he suggests foregoing that elusive sleep to stick to a schedule. Try setting a bedtime alarm on your phone just like you would for when you wake up!

  2. Temperature - Our brain and bodies need a drop in core temperature to initiate and stay in sleep. The current recommendation is cooling your room to about 18 degrees, sounds cold, but cold it must be!

  3. Darkness - embrace the darkness. Not only are a lot of sleep deprived but we are also darkness deprived. Darkness triggers a key sleeping hormone, Melatonin, which helps regulate a healthy sleep timing. Stay away from phones and computers 1 hour before bed and even dim the lights around the house and see how sleepy you start to get.

  4. Walk it out - don’t stay in bed not asleep for too long! After about 25 minutes of trying to sleep without success the guideline is to get out of bed and do something else. This helps rewire our brain to associate sleepiness with entering bed!

  5. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake - lay off the coffee and booze. Caffeine and alcohol intake in the afternoon and evening can disrupt our sleep so do your best to not consume large amounts after the evening or earlier if you are having extra trouble.

  6. Have a wind-down routine - humans love routine. Sleep isn’t an instant process and we require time for our brain to wind down to be ready to sleep. Once again avoid computers and phones 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed and find something to do that is relaxing and stick to that routine.

Role of Exercise

The above tips are 6 surefire ways to improve your sleep but there is one we haven’t touched on and that’s exercise!

A systematic review of 34 research studies on the link between exercise and sleep was conducted in 2017. Of these 34 studies, 29 found evidence that exercise was related to improved sleep quality and time. It was found in these cases that regardless of the mode or intensity of exercise, exercise improved sleep efficiency, especially in disease populations! The practical takeaway here is that no matter how you exercise, doing so is going to help improve your sleep and help prevent all those nasty side effects mentioned earlier.

Sleeping is saving your life!

This article has taken a deep dive into all things sleep and just how serious sleep deprivation is! I have shared with you some top tips that are sure to help you improve your sleep, remembering to not forget the important role that exercise has on sleep. To put it plainly, if not sleeping is killing you then sleeping is saving your life!

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