According to new research, Brits are losing an entire night of sleep per week. We asked Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School how this can affect people both mentally and physically.
Dr Meadows says; “The results from this second national survey suggest a worsening of the UK's sleepless epidemic with the number of adults reporting to get less than six hours sleep per night increasing from 46% to 53%. Worryingly, a similar pattern of sleeplessness is also evident in children, with over 20% of those aged between three and 17 years reported to not be getting the required sleep for their age. Given the importance of sleep for both children and adults in maintaining mental, emotional and physical health, such figures are deeply worrying for the long term health of the nation.
In addition, with over a billion pounds lost because of absenteeism from work due to poor sleep, not to mention its negative impact on mental performance, it's time the UK woke up to the negative cost of sleep deprivation on the UK economy."
Healthy weight - Poor sleep disrupts the appetite and satiety hormones Leptin and Ghrelin causing us to crave more sugary food, eat more and gain weight.
Strong immune system - Regularly sleeping less than 6 hours sleep per night increases our risk of catching the common cold by 4.5 times, as well as increasing the time taken to recover.
Healthy hearts - Poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. The reasons for this include an increased risk of high blood pressure, elevated blood inflammatory markers and poor dietary and lifestyle factors.
Balanced blood sugar - Poor sleep increases our blood sugar levels, similar to that seen in diabetes. It appears to alter the function of insulin, leading to an insulin resistance type effect resulting in high blood sugar.
Beauty sleep - Sleep plays a vital role in the repair and regeneration of all cells including skin cells. Sleep deprivation reduces the time available for skin repair, as well as increasing the stress hormone cortisol accelerating cell aging.
Risk taking - Initial sleep research suggests that sleep deprivation makes us more likely to expect a positive outcome causing us to take greater risks.
Mental ill health - A bidirectional relationship exists between poor sleep and poor mental health. It is well documented that poor sleep is a symptom of depression and anxiety. However, research also suggests that persistent insomnia can increase an individual’s risk of depression and anxiety occurring or recurring.
Cognitive performance – From past Bensons for Beds research, Five days of poor sleep (e.g. 6 hours versus 8 hours) is reported to have the same negative impact on cognitive performance as two whole nights without sleep. Higher order executive functions such as problem solving, focus and attention and memory recall are all dramatically reduced.
Positive mental attitude - Poor sleep shifts us from our modern rational prefrontal cortex into our primitive threat detecting amygdala. Research suggests that in this state we view the world around and ourselves us more negatively. This lowers mood, trust and makes it harder for us to form new or maintain old relationships.
Brain washing - When we sleep the Glymphatic system opens small channels in the brain to flush out neuro-toxins built up during the day. It is speculated that poor sleep may lead to a deterioration in this system and the consequent build-up of toxins may increase the risk of Alzheimer's .
Research by Bensons for Beds.
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