But how can a lack of adequate sleep affect our health? In the short term poor sleep can influence your mood, your ability to make decisions and to learn and retain information. In the long term chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to many serious health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Loughborough University’s Professor Kevin Morgan has been researching sleep for more than 30 years.
“Sleep problems have both immediate and later consequences,” he explains. “The immediate consequences are fairly obvious – you feel fatigue and less efficient during the day, you’re perhaps clumsier, and you find it difficult to sustain attention over longer periods.
“People with chronic poor sleep, where they actually don’t sleep enough night after night, are far more likely to put on weight and are more pre-disposed to high blood pressure. Both of which are linked to many serious health conditions.
“Poor sleep also has an impact on your mental health. People who don’t sleep very well are far more likely to become depressed, even if they’ve never been depressed in their life before.”
So what can you do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep? For Loughborough’s New Year health and wellbeing campaign Professor Morgan has come up with his five top tips:
- Go to bed sleepy – reserve your sleepiness for bedtime. Sleeping in the day can disrupt your night time rest.
- Have a bedtime ritual – routine is sleep’s best friend, it lets your brain know that now is time to sleep.
- Try to maintain the same getting-up-time each morning; even if you vary the times you go to bed.
- Avoid spending long periods of lying awake in bed before or during the night. Save your bed for sleep.
- Don’t ever ‘try’ to sleep – this is a self-defeating act as it is a process that has to happen naturally. If you can’t get to sleep (or get back to sleep) then get up and do something that is not overly stimulating, read a book, make a hot caffeine free drink, then return to bed when you feel sleepy again.
For more tips and advice to help you have a happy and healthy 2018 follow Loughborough University’s New Year health and wellbeing campaign. Search for the latest campaign content by the #LboroExperts hashtag on Twitter, or on our Facebook page, Snapchat account and YouTube channel.