How well do you sleep?
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, you’re not alone. A 2019 report by Loughborough University found that three in four employees in the UK suffer persistent sleep problems, and over half (54%) are unable to stay awake in the day.
A quarter of the people questioned said that their sleep problems prevent them from completing work they had planned, and mean they struggle to work fast and maintain quality.
A separate 2018 Rand study into the economic effects of sleep deprivation found that the insufficient and poor-quality sleep of UK workers was losing the country 200,000 working days each year. According to the authors of the report, if people who currently sleep under six hours began sleeping just six to seven hours, this could add £24.5 billion to the UK economy.
Sleeping well has many health and wellbeing benefits. Here are seven reasons a good night’s sleep is so important.
1. It helps you to concentrate and to be more productive
Good quality sleep can maximise problem-solving skills and enhance your memory. Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, including:
All the above can be negatively affected if you don’t get enough sleep.
A study of medical interns found that interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
2. It can help your mental health
Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. Indeed, estimates suggest that 90% of people with depression complain about the quality of their sleep.
People with sleeping disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.
3. It can help you maintain a healthy body weight
You may not associate sleep with your weight, but studies have shown that poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain.
People who don’t sleep well tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep; indeed, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
One extensive review study found that children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively.
In addition, if you’re trying to lose weight then getting quality sleep is really important. That’s because studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories.
Sleep deprivation also disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.
4. It can help you avoid the risk of diabetes
Not getting enough sleep can affect your blood sugar and reduce your insulin sensitivity. People who sleep for less than six hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
For example, in a study of healthy young men, restricting sleep to four hours per night for six nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. These symptoms resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.
5. It can boost your immune system
A lack of sleep also greatly impacts your body’s immune system. Without proper sleep, your immune system can become weakened and have trouble fighting off germs. This can cause you to get sick more often and suffer through a slower recovery time when you do.
Sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair, which is one of the reasons you feel tired and want to sleep more when you don’t feel well. Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders, such as the common cold.
A good night’s sleep helps to strengthen your body’s immune response and, remember, that it’s essential that you allow yourself time to rest and recover when you’re not feeling well.
6. It can help you to avoid accidents
Tiredness is a major cause of road crashes in the UK. Fatigued drivers have slower reaction times and suffer from reduced attention, awareness, and ability to control their vehicles.
Police statistics show that fatigue contributed to 4% of fatal road crashes and 2% of all collisions in Britain in 2018. However, it is likely that the true figures are far higher because fatigue is hard to spot; unlike alcohol and drugs, police can’t test for tiredness.
Worldwide, it is estimated that between 10% and 20% of all road crashes are related to tiredness.
Research has shown that one in eight drivers (13%) admit falling asleep at the wheel, and nearly two fifths (37%) have been concerned about falling asleep while driving.
So, getting a good night’s sleep means you’re likely to be more alert when you’re driving and, consequently, less likely to nod off at the wheel and cause an accident.
7. It can help to keep your heart healthy
We’ve already seen that a lack of sleep can increase your risk of diabetes. However, not getting enough sleep can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
Scientists believe that waking up too often can stimulate your sympathetic nervous system – the system responsible for your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is how your body physically reacts when it senses danger. Your sympathetic nervous system also activates your cardiovascular system and increases your blood pressure to prepare you for waking up.
If you’re being kept awake too often, your body can’t compensate for this rise in blood pressure and your level may remain higher than expected. Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease.
Getting enough sleep is an important factor in looking after your cardiovascular health.
Sleep easier at night with the peace of mind that you and your family are protected
A 2020 poll of 2,000 adults found that Brits experienced worse sleep during lockdown than they did previously.
Strange dreams and late-night snacking were among the reasons that sleep quality dropped, as well as worrying, working later into the evening, and the change in people’s routines.
It’s been a difficult time, and many millions of people have faced the stresses of childcare, looking after loved ones who are ill, working from home, and managing their finances while on furlough.
Of course, many thousands of families have also had to deal with the bereavement of losing a loved one.
While making sure you have the right protection in place might not deal with some of the worries you’re experiencing, it can provide the peace of mind and reassurance that your family will be financially secure if something happens to you.
In recent months, lockdown and coronavirus may have given you time to think about what’s important to you and, perhaps, even your own mortality. Ensuring that your children will be provided for, that your family can remain in your home, and that you’ll be able to support yourself if you’re seriously ill can provide huge reassurance.
We’re specialists in helping you to get the right protection at the right price. Cover costs less than you might imagine, so compare life insurance quotes or get a Critical Illness cover quote today. Once your protection is in place, you’ll be able to sleep better at night, knowing you’ve done the right thing by those you love.
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