The importance of sleep

Most adults need to spend a third of our lives asleep to maintain wellbeing, yet our length and quality of sleep can vary. Director of Wellbeing, Michael Fullerton asks whether your sleep needs some careful consideration

‘Did you sleep alright?’ How many times have you said that, or been asked that question?

Why is it that we repeatedly check if we have had a good night’s sleep? Possibly we value having good quality sleep but at times it is difficult to achieve.

Sleep is an important aspect of our lives, taking up about a third of each day. We all sleep and the quality of our sleep can have a positive or negative affect on our mental and physical wellbeing. The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good wellbeing. Many people have more or less sleep than this for a variety of reasons.

Despite sleep being so important, we generally pay it insufficient attention when thinking about our physical and mental health. Being sleep-deprived or experiencing frequent sleep disruptions can have a significant impact on overall wellbeing. Therefore, paying close attention to the underlying reasons for sleep difficulties is essential to seek to improve its quality and duration. If you have, or think you have, a sleep disorder or are having persistent difficulties getting good sleep do speak to your GP.

In the main, to improve sleep it’s important to think about:

  • The environment you sleep in e.g. the quality of your pillows and mattress, lighting, noise, avoiding clutter and screens!
  • Keeping to a regular sleep/wake time, as much as you can
  • Getting out into natural light in the morning
  • Taking plenty of exercise during the day, but not too close to bedtime
  • Avoiding stimulants that contain caffeine eight hours before bedtime
  • Eating and drinking well, but not too close to bedtime
  • Not using alcohol to aid sleep

Further reading, advice and information is available from The Sleep Charity.

Personally, I get off to sleep easily and tend to sleep well but I wake really early. I’m currently encouraging my body to sleep for longer at night to ensure I get adequate sleep for my wellbeing.
Have a good think about your sleep, and if you have any difficulties think about any changes you can make – and on that note, sleep well tonight!