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Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives, but how often do we skip sleep in order to get everything done?  Sleep is a natural and necessary process that helps our bodies and minds recharge, repair and rejuvenate. Despite its importance, many people tend to overlook the significance of sleep and often prioritise other activities over it. Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for our overall health and wellbeing.

One of the most significant benefits of sleep is its restorative effect on the body.  During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissue, strengthens the immune system, and balances hormones.  Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can have adverse effects on our physical health.  Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.  If these reasons aren’t enough to increase your shut eye, I don’t know what is!  Sleep allows muscle tissue the time to recover between workouts as well as being important to ensure you have the energy for exercise.  Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in the risk of sports injuries, which is not something we want when we are regularly hitting the gym.

Sleep also plays a vital role in mental health, helping to reduce stress levels, improve cognitive function and regulate mood.  Lack of sleep can result in irritability, mood swings and even depression.  Additionally, sleep deprivation can affect our ability to concentrate, make decisions and perform well at work or school.  Sleep is also essential for memory consolidation – it is during sleep that the brain processes and consolidates information that is learned during the day.  This isn’t just necessary for students; we are presented with a huge amount of information every day.  Information that is important to our employment, our children and families or just knowledge that we may need.  Lack of sleep can impair memory and cognitive function, which makes it difficult to learn and retain new information. 
While, for some of us, sleep can be hard to come by, here’s a few hints to help you experience a decent night’s sleep.  Many factors are going to get in your way – busy lifestyles, stress, technology, but sleep is so important that a few adjustments may help.

Consistent Sleep Schedule – while it is easy to fall into the trap of staying up late on the weekends, it has been found that going to bed and getting up at the same time every day assists you with sleeping well.  I know this is hard when you might have the opportunity to sleep in, but being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle which is going to help you fall asleep each night.  Ensuring that you also choose a sleep time that enables you to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep is beneficial too.

Creating a Relaxing Sleeping Environment – make sure that your room is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature for you.  Removing electronic devices helps as well.  TVs, computers and phones can all have an impact on our sleep.  Your bedroom should be a calm area.  Invest in quality bed linen and pillows, a comfortable mattress and get rid of excess clutter.

Avoiding Stimulating Activities Before Bed – getting some exercise during the day can definitely help you fall asleep more easily at night, but exercising too close to bed time can do the opposite.  Try to avoid hitting the gym close to bed time.  The energy hit that we chase from a workout can make it more difficult to fall asleep.  You also want to avoid watching TV or being on your phone too late as well. 
Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol Intake – you might think you need that 3pm coffee.  Maybe you believe that glass of wine will send you to sleep.  We need quality sleep, not just quantity.  Alcohol and caffeine can both wreak havoc on your sleep routine, which may mean the quality sleep you are chasing will just not happen.

Sleep is vital for our overall health and wellbeing. It is a natural and necessary process that allows our bodies and minds to recharge, repair and rejuvenate.  Lack of sleep can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health, including increased risk of chronic conditions and impaired cognitive function.  Prioritising getting enough quality sleep is going to make a world of difference to your body and mind.