Did you know a third of your life is spent sleeping? Well, it should be anyway. The thing is, nowadays many of us don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours a night – even though it’s a vital ingredient in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Quality sleep boosts your mood, your performance, your immune system, your memory and your energy levels. So finish your cocoa, fluff up your pillow and discover 5 key benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep boosts your immunity
One of the body’s most important jobs is protecting us from disease – but to do that effectively it needs the immune systems to be at full strength. The immune system goes to war against any invaders, attacking and repelling viruses and disease. Yet numerous research studies have shown that our immunity becomes weaker when we don’t get enough sleep. Your nightly 8 hours gives your system the time it needs for some R & R before going once more into the breach.
Sleep improves athletic performance
A good night’s sleep will make you more likely to wake up feeling refreshed, energised and ready to make the most of every day. At the same time it can also improve your athletic performance, building the mental strength you need to hit the gym at full force. A recent study by Stanford University has even found that sleep has just as much impact on training performance as diet. A full night’s sleep doesn’t just set you up for the day ahead, but also allows your body to regain the energy it loses from working out.
Sleep makes you healthier
OK, so a good night’s sleep won’t counteract the effects of a big plate of fish and chips or a night on the town. Even so, it can be just as important as sweating it out at the gym when it comes to keeping our weight under control. That’s because sleeping can regulate the hormones that affect our appetite, which explains why we can often feel hungrier on the days we haven’t slept well.
A lack of sleep, on the other hand, can lead to sight gain by slowing down your metabolism. It can also cause you to overeat, tempting you to choose food that’s high in calories in an effort to curb your hunger. Studies published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (which you probably subscribe to) found that sleeping less than six hours per night triggers the part of the brain that increases the need to eat – even when you may not be hungry.
Sleep makes you happier
You know how it feels when you’ve had a restless night: you can feel irritable and impatient and cranky. You might struggle to concentrate. You snap and lose your patience more quickly. To put it another way, you’ve got out the wrong side of bed. More seriously, a lack of sleep is strongly associated with depression and mental illness, making it even important to ensure you’re getting the hours you need to rebalance the chemicals and hormones that affect your mentality and well-being. A really good night’s rest, by contrast, leaves you feeling more optimistic, brighter, and happier.
Sleep reduces stress
We all have to deal with stress whether it’s coping with work, running a home, or simply trying to walk down Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. The best way to stay on top of life’s little pressures is, yes, a good night’s sleep. Too much stress can affect us both emotionally and physically and make us feel tense, anxious, even depressed. It’s a known fact that sleep and stress go hand in hand, so make sure you give your mind and body the chance to restore themselves overnight. Waking up feeling fresh and rested makes it so much easier to deal with whatever comes your way.
How to get a better night’s sleep
Finding it tricky to sleep well? A few simple changes to your routine can change all that to help you start each day feeling fresh, rested and relaxed.
– Turn your phone to black and white in the evening.
– Try to avoid it altogether in your final hour before bed.
– Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends.
– Limit the amount of caffeine you drink.
– Avoid big meals at night and eat earlier in the evening.
– Cut out the snacking after 9pm.
– Forget about the large brandy before bed.
– Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs.
– Try meditation or yoga to help you unwind and relax after a busy day.
– Speak to your doctor to rule out any other problems that could be getting in the way.
– And last but far from least, exercise regularly.
Did someone say regular exercise? Well, that’s where the free Esquared app comes in, making it easy to find and book 2-hour gym sessions and one-off classes at premium gyms across London, the UK and now the world.