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The Benefits of Getting More Sleep

March 2024

There are so many benefits to getting more sleep that it is hard to know where to begin! Recently in the Australian news, there have been calls to attention at the level of sleep deprivation present in our society.

Australian Sleep Statistics from the Sleep Society reveal that around 40% of Australians are struggling to sleep for 7-9 hours a day, while 59.4% have problematic symptoms at least 3-4 times per week -including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early, and not being able to get back to sleep.

Our distracting technology and demanding schedules often leave us with little time to enjoy the simple things in life, like cooking a good meal from scratch or having an afternoon nap. But getting enough sleep should not be overlooked at any age, and here is why:


6 Reasons to get more sleep

1.       Beauty sleep – getting your beauty sleep, although an expression, has some truth and science behind it. According to this article from the Sleep Foundation, the potential benefits of beauty sleep include reduced wrinkles, stronger hair,less puffy eyes, and a healthier complexion. During sleep, your body heals, releases hormones and regenerates cells. Blood flow to the skin is increased and collagen rebuilds. This helps to restore your skin and repair any sun damage. On the other hand, insufficient sleep, including sleep deprivation or late nights, has been linked to poor physical health and appearance, including accelerated intrinsic aging, increased wrinkles, hair loss, skin dehydration and acne.

2.      Early to bed, early to rise, makes Johnny healthy, wealthy and wise –this little saying is a great one for the kids, and according to the online Cambridge Dictionary, emphasises that someone who gets enough sleep and starts work early in the day will have a successful life.

Brain plasticity theory shows that sleep is necessary for neural reorganisation and growth of the brain’s structure, playing a major role in brain development and function. This is also why infants and children with developing brains need much more sleep than adults. For all ages, having sufficient and quality sleep improves physical and cognitive/academic performance, including learning and memory, while too little sleep has been associated with impaired thinking, laziness, and an increased risk of accidents.

3.       Sleep for a healthy weight and energy conservation – according to Energy conservation theory, a major function of sleep is that it reduces our energy demand for food. Sleep helps to balance two essential hormones related to hunger (Leptin and Ghrelin), and sleep duration has been found to play a significant role in maintaining body weight.

4.      Sleep for growth and bones – during sleep, the body releases growth hormones, so young babies and children need sufficient sleep as they are growing rapidly. Growth hormones are essential for tissue repair and regeneration. Sleeping too little can interfere with bone development, and delay fracture healing.

5.       Sleep to support your immune system– you know how sometimes you feel a cold coming on, but then you get an early night and feel better the next day? Lack of sleep has been linked to increased and prolonged cases of colds and viruses. Getting extra rest while you are sick can help your recovery.

6.       Sleep for a good mood and good decisions – we can probably all relate to having a bad night’s sleep and feeling annoyed and irritable the next day. The opposite can also be true,where a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling positive and refreshed for the day ahead. According to the Better Health Channel, sleeplessness and mood disorders are closely linked. Anxiety, stress,and mood can impact the quality of our sleep, so it is important to wind down before bed and try to sleep with a peaceful conscience. Some conversations and decisions are better dealt with the next day. If you ‘sleep on it’ - your thoughts can be clearer in the morning.


4 tips to improve your sleep

1.       ‘Sleep in peace when day is done,that’s what I need’– lyrics from the famous song, Feeling Good, this phrase conjures up feelings of gratitude. Feeling grateful for what you have, including your bed,is a positive way to let go of the day’s dramas and clear your mind before closing your eyes at night.  

2.       Stick to, and enjoy, your bedtime routine – a regular bedtime routine works well for families and individuals alike, the classic example being dinner, bath, teeth, toilet, and a bedtime story. Families need to find what works for them, and this often depends on the ages of kids and work schedules. Different members of the household may have different bed times or early morning routines, so it is important to be respectful and mindful of noise levels. Good sleep habits and regular sleep patterns are important at any age, and kids will benefit from learning and practicing good habits early on.

3.       Turn off your devices and technology at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime, and use aeroplane mode – scrolling on your phone, reading your favourite online blog, or watching a Netflix series can be a great way to relax and unwind in the evenings, but we all know the pitfalls. Getting distracted and staying up too late is a common consequence of evening technology use. Be strict with yourself and set a time limit. Depending on your situation, turning your phone on aeroplane mode when you go to bed can minimise interruptions from notifications during the middle of the night.

4.       Daily physical activity - incorporating moderate exercise into your day is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep at night. Moderate exercise can extend sleep duration and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. Doing yoga or some light stretches before going to bed can help regulate your breathing and relax your body and mind.

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