Five great reasons to sleep well

Health  |  By

Tiredness from lack of sleep doesn’t just make it hard to function the next day. Sleep problems like insomnia can increase our risk of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. Being tired also reduces will-power, making it harder to lose weight and keep up healthier behaviours.

Here are five great reasons to get a really good kip…

Sleep yourself slim

Studies have shown a link between the quality of our sleep and our waistlines.

Research suggests that when we have a bad night’s sleep it changes the body’s hormones that regulate appetite – leaving our hunger levels at an all-time high. But it gets worse – we not only feel hungrier, but studies show that we specifically reach for high-calorie/high-fat foods, in an attempt to boost our energy levels that have been left depleted by poor sleep. What’s more, a poor night’s sleep can significantly raise the level of cortisol that can increase belly fat and put us at risk of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more. Read more here.

Be a safer driver

It’s no surprise that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to nod off at the wheel and have a greater risk of car accidents. Sleep apnoea, often associated with being overweight, is a condition where people wake up frequently at night, often keeping their partners awake with their snoring too, and then fall asleep during the day from exhaustion. If you recognise this pattern, chat to your GP as it can be treated, reducing your risk of accidents – as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and other problems too. Read more about preventing drowsy driving here.

Reduce your risk of dementia

It seems that there is a link between poor sleep and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists think that sleep provides time for the brain fluid to wash away the abnormal proteins that are associated with these problems – so aim for around 7-8 hours a night to let your brain catch up with the housekeeping!

Beauty sleep isn’t a myth

We all feel worse after a bad night’s sleep, but hope that a touch more make-up, dark glasses or even a smile may disguise it. Not true, I’m afraid! Studies show that poor sleep really does show in our face and can be picked up by others – who find us less attractive than when we are well rested. What’s more, when we are sleep deprived we find it more difficult to interpret the emotions of others – which could land us in some tricky social situations.

Reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes

Sleep of less than 5 hours a night may more than double your risk of type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common problem which can lead to further complications of its own, as well as require dietary restrictions and long-term medication. Poor sleep can lead to increased blood pressure, which is associated with strokes and heart attacks too.

So, aiming for 7-8 hours of restful sleep a night could do us more good than we realise. We may feel we are too busy to spare the time for another hour or two in bed…but fear not. It seems that people who get adequate sleep tend to live longer – so we will have lots more time in the long run!

Read more about how to improve your sleep here.

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