A good night’s sleep is vital if we’re to stay happy and healthy. Good quality sleep, and enough of it, is just as essential to our well-being as food and water. Sleep energises us, helps us stay focused on what we want to get out of life and improves our mood and happiness levels too. During sleep, our body grows and repairs muscles, reorganises our memories and releases the hormones essential for our health and well-being. These are just a few reasons why it is important to get more sleep.
Without enough quality sleep, the parts of our brain that control our emotions become easily disrupted. We become less able to deal with the physical and emotional challenges we face during the day and more likely to get stressed or lose our tempers (Walker, 2009). Poor quality sleep, or not enough of it, can lower our quality of life and increase our risk for depression. It can even be a health hazard by increasing our risk of having an accident (Haus & Smolensky, 2006).
Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythms. These are the twenty-four hour biological cycles that regulate our biological processes. These tell us when to feel sleepy and when to be alert. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that has a vital role in regulating sleep – it maintains our body’s natural time clock – the circadian rhythm. When darkness falls, the hormone melatonin automatically kicks in and we start to feel tired and sleepy. The body gets used to a specific cycle of waking and sleeping and automatically learns to release hormones like melatonin at the same time each day. Going to bed at irregular hours tends to disrupt our body clock, so to maintain your quality of sleep make sure you keep to regular sleeping patterns.
For tips on improving your sleep, have a look here Tips To Help You Sleep.
Content adapted from: Coach Yourself, by Anthony Grant and Jane Greene, and Eight Steps To Happiness: An Everyday Handbook, by Anthony Grant.
This fact sheet contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.
Walker, M. P. (2009). The role of sleep in cognition and emotion. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1156(The Year in Cognitive Neuroscience 2009), 168-197.
Haus, E., & Smolensky, M. (2006). Biological clocks and shift workers: Circadian dysregulation and potential longterms effects. Cancer Causes Control, 17, 489-500.