If you’ve been a student for a while, you won’t be surprised to find out that when we’re not getting enough sleep, we don’t function so well. Although scientists have yet to provide a definitive answer for why we need to sleep, it’s clear that getting enough sleep is critical to our health. These are some of the theories so far:
- Our body needs downtime to repair and re-energise itself. It literally performs an internal ‘tune-up’ while we are sleeping.
- Our brain ‘cleans house’ while we sleep, taking the opportunity to get rid of most of the by-products generated by our daily mental functions.
- The process of dreaming allows us to subconsciously process our day and whatever is going on in our life.
- When we don’t get enough sleep:
- The body produces extra stress hormones, so we’re more prone to stress.
- We lose physical co-ordination and agility.
- We can’t think clearly.
- Our level of creativity is reduced.
All good reasons to get a good night’s sleep!
Of course it’s also possible to get too much sleep, which isn’t healthy either. Most people need around eight hours a night with some people needing a bit more or a bit less, so experiment to find what works best for you.
Here are some ideas to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Turn off the TV or your computer at least an hour before bed so your brain can start to wind down.
- Have a ritual that you follow e.g. have a bath, brush your teeth, get a glass of water and switch over to the bedside lights. This trains your body to prepare for sleep as soon as you start that process.
- Make a note of anything that’s on your mind so you don’t worry about forgetting it.
- Breathe deeply and imagine you are breathing out all the worries of your day.
- If you read before turning out the light, make sure it’s not something that will get your mind racing.
- Sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow or in your bath.