Sleep is like plugging your body into its own built-in charger. It replenishes your depleted energy levels and gives you enough charge or energy to do what you need to do in your waking hours. (4, 7)
Though, much like a mobile phone that hasn’t fully recharged and cuts off in mid-call, if you don’t sleep enough, you can run out of energy way too soon. How much you sleep affects every action you perform that requires energy and a lack thereof can even affect your outward appearance. So, your nightly session on “charge” shouldn’t be taken lightly and since we spend roughly a third of our lives doing it, why not try to get the best out of it? (4, 7)
We all need to make sure we get the right amount of sleep, and enough good quality sleep. There is no set amount of sleep that is appropriate for everyone; some people need more sleep than others. So, it’s not just about how much you sleep, it’s also about how well you sleep. Sleep is a necessity to maintain your physical and mental health as it is necessary for the brain to recover and regenerate. During sleep the brain processes information and strengthens memory – that is why it is better to get a good night’s sleep before an exam or an important day at work.
Melatonin is a hormone synthesised and secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and has been linked scientifically to regulating sleep which in turn boosts the immune system and helps maintain a better mood and quality of life.
Our bodies have a built-in clock – or circadian rhythm – that regulates our sleep cycles, and this controls how much melatonin your body secretes. Under normal circumstances, melatonin levels go up in the mid- to late evening and stay up most of the night. They then drop again in the early morning.
As we get older, our natural melatonin levels slowly decrease, which is why a supplement may sometimes be needed to get a good night’s rest – especially if you are an older adult suffering from insomnia. See Ageing and Sleep for more.
Regulation of sleep (1, 5)
When we sleep, our bodies go into a pattern that we call “sleep architecture” – our own personal blueprint that navigates our way through the sleeping world. We alternate between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep throughout the night in a cycle that repeats roughly every 90 minutes. This architecture, which is regulated by melatonin, determines when we will fall asleep, how long we’ll sleep and when we’ll wake up.
As adults, our sleep cycle is an ever-changing pattern. The sleep-wake cycle is regulated by two things – how tired you are and your circadian (biological) clock.
Sleep isn’t always at the top of our list of things to do as other waking priorities seem to take precedence, but it’s important to get the best out of the hours you have to sleep, and understanding your sleep cycle is a good start. As you shuffle, every 90 – 110 minutes or so, between non-REM sleep and REM sleep, your body goes through phases of rest and recovery. This process may be repeated up to 5 times over the course of a single night and comprises the following stages:
Of your sleep cycle
Episodes of REM sleep per night
After falling asleep, dream sleep starts
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, where you’ll find it difficult to fall asleep or to stay asleep. It’s a great source of frustration for millions of people that can lead to decreased energy levels, general fatigue, decreased concentration, negative moods and decreased performance in your daily life. If you are generally averaging six or fewer hours a night of sleep, and take half an hour or more to fall asleep when you get into bed, it’s possible that you might have some level of insomnia.
These are some, but not all the symptoms you might experience when you are suffering from insomnia:
These are some, but not all of the factors that may lead to you experiencing trouble with sleeping:
In the short-term, insomnia can affect your performance at work or during everyday tasks that many take for granted. Even just reducing your sleep by as little as one and a half hours for one night can have a significant effect on your general alertness and effectiveness, and it can have a cumulative effect.
Tossing and turning at night can also disrupt your partner’s sleep, which can lead to stress in the relationship. Additionally, sleep deprivation can affect your memory and impair your mood and general cognitive ability.
In the long-term, an accumulated lack of sleep can seriously affect your quality of life as a whole, making you less capable of engaging in social situations, adding to bouts of depression and even affecting your ability to drive or operate machinery, which could lead to personal injury
The greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is a healthy you. Take care of your body and focus on living the highest quality of life you can through your daily choices.
At Acino, we have longstanding knowledge which we want to share with you. Explore our materials to raise your awareness, and make decisions to stay healthy and improve your quality of life. You can also join our discussion about sleep on Facebook.
When insomnia starts affecting the quality of your life, you should consider speaking to your doctor or healthcare provider. Your doctor or healthcare provider could help determine the root cause of your sleep troubles and whether or not you have a sleep disorder that will need intervention or if your insomnia could be treated with medication.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned on this site, consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider to find out about treatments and solutions that might help. Sleeping is just as important to your health and general well-being as food and water, so don’t ignore the problem if you’re battling through fatigue. There is help available.
Non-pharmacological solutions include maintaining good sleeping habits, but if that doesn’t help, you can speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about other options to help restore your natural sleep rhythm. Ask your doctor how to Sleep well, Live well.
Sleep hygiene has nothing to do with being clean (although taking a bath does help). It is a term used to describe all those habits and behaviours that could help you get a good night’s rest. Good sleep hygiene is a gateway to sweet dreams and can even help your overall health.
If you are suffering from sleep difficulties there are some things that you can do and avoid doing in order to help you get a better night’s sleep. Some of these are common sense, and others may even surprise you – so give them a try and see what works for you.
Last update: 16 February 2023
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