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7 things I’ve learned about sleep and health

  1. Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our overall health and sense of wellbeing. How well we sleep plays a role in how we feel on a day to day basis as well as having an impact on our immune system & our ability to fight simple illnesses and how we make choices especially in relation to our food choices (and it isn’t always positive).
  2. Sleep is directly linked to our risks of diseases that can affect us into old age. One of the most talked about of these is the risk of dementia as we get older and how this is increasing evidence to link with poor sleep patterns in middle age. 
  3. It’s never too late to make a difference – whilst sleep habits are exactly that, habits we have become used to over time can be changed – it just takes effort. 
  4. What we do during the day affects how we sleep at night. Somethings are obvious such as too many lattes & getting stressed out about something in the evening. Good sleep habits start from early on in the day – exposure to natural light, reducing exposure to blue light from screens as the day goes on and being active are all ways to help you get a good nights sleep.
  5. Our eyes may be closed but our brains are still working when we sleep – we are learning more about this but basically when we sleep our brain works it’s way through all the sleep stages (more on that later) while giving itself a good deep clean. important memories are also ‘filed away’ while we sleep.  
  6. It is almost impossible to have good mental health if your sleep pattern is poor. A major symptom of many mental illnesses is changes to sleep patterns.
  7. Whilst we all differ in how much actual sleep we need, ‘the I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ way of thinking is outdated.  The more we learn about this seemingly simple activity that we all take for granted the more it seems it’s a key part of a healthy and fulfilling life.

Dr Clara Russell co-founder, Noggin The Brain People