We spend a third of our lives asleep—but do we really? It turns out that us Brits are not sleeping enough—certainly not the recommended seven to nine hours; The Sleep Council found that seventy percent of people in the UK get seven hours or less a night. That rest is important. There's a surprising amount of activity happening when we sleep. In fact, one in three of us suffers from poor sleep on a regular basis. So, when you’re stuck staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night, you’re definitely not alone. But here’s a statistic we should pay attention to: sleep is the biggest single contributor to living better. So, how often do you find yourself telling friends, family, colleagues, or that stranger on the train, just how tired you are? In today’s increasingly demanding world, we just don’t seem to make enough time to rest. But did you know that sleep deprivation is linked to cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and poor mental health, not to mention a shortened life expectancy? Poor sleep also affects our memory, increases the chance of accident and injury, weakens our immune systems, and affects our decision-making, creativity, and mood.
It's not about Laziness, It's Your Health at Risk
One problem seems to be that as a nation, we’ve come to stigmatise sleep with the label of laziness, according to Professor Matthew Walker, director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Originally from Liverpool, Walker urges us to pay more attention to when our bodies tell us they’re tired. “Humans are the only species that deliberately delay sleep,” he says. We could all do a little better at switching off before we head to bed, putting our phones, favourite Netflix shows, and work emails away as we prepare to sleep. Of course, we’re not all purposely avoiding sleep every night; there are a number of causes of sleep deprivation. According to The Business of Sleep, some of the triggers that affect our ability to sleep include shift work, young children, jetlag, illness and injury, alcohol, exercise, and noise. Work-related stress, depression, anxiety, working anti-social hours, getting older, money worries, and personal loss are just a few of the many other factors that can keep us awake at night, alongside health conditions such as sleep apnoea, which, according to the NHS, is “where your throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts your breathing. This results in loud snoring and a drop in your blood's oxygen levels. The difficulty in breathing means you wake up often in the night and feel exhausted the next day.”, and restless legs, which can cause an overwhelming urge to move your legs, as well as an uncomfortable crawling sensation, or deep ache, which, again, can disrupt the quality and amount of sleep you get each night. There’s a lot going against a good night’s rest, isn’t there? According to the NHS, the simplest indication that you might be suffering from inadequate sleep is, “if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to nap”. Chances are, you’re not getting the sleep you need. Here are some of the physical signs of sleep deprivation.
Decreased Communication With Friends and Family
hands up if you’re not the most sociable of creatures when you first wake up. Now imagine that groggy feeling lasting all day: if you’re tired, you’re less likely to be able to want to start – or hold – a conversation.
Performance Deterioration on the Job
Did you know that sleep loss costs the UK economy £30bn a year in lost revenue? If you find yourself struggling to stay on task, putting off that big work assignment, or losing your motivation before the task is completed, then it’s likely that you’ve slept poorly the night before.
Poor Concentration/Easily Distracted
Your friend is telling you all about their wedding plans, or that funny thing that happened in the office last week, and you just can’t keep your focus. Not only will you most likely end up with a less-than-impressed pal, but you’ll be cross with yourself for not being able to pay attention to the things that normally matter to you.
Poor Cognitive Assimilation and Memory
Struggling to process new information or keep getting your memories muddled? If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting how to access that work file, despite just being shown how to ten minutes ago, then you might be able to point the finger at your sleep.
Poor Mood/inappropriate Behaviour
We all know that horrid, irritable feeling when we’re running low on sleep. If you tend to lash out unnecessarily or can’t shake off that black cloud following you around, then your lack of sleep is probably a contributor.
Intense Risk-Taking Behaviour
One recent study reported that a lack of sleep affects the human body the same way drinking alcohol does. After seventeen hours without sleep, our alertness is similar to the blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent. This may explain why we can act a little more recklessly and are less likely to make smart decisions when we’ve suffered a less than adequate amount of sleep.
Inability to Make Necessary Adjustments
Think of what happens when you get behind the wheel to drive, already tired before you turn the key. Your focus, concentration, and ability to react quickly – much the same way alcohol affects us – are all impaired. This is why it can be lethal to drive when tired.
Too Much Caffeine/Energy Drinks
We all enjoy a cup of coffee or three, but if you’re reliant on the work coffee machine, or your work rubbish bin is loaded up with empty energy drinks bottles, then you’re probably reliant on the caffeine and sugar in these drinks to make up for your lack of sleep.
Find yourself always suffering from a cold, or can’t fight off the flu during the winter months? It’s no wonder that UK workplaces lose an equivalent of 200,000 days lost due to sickness when a lack of sleep makes our immune systems much less equipped to ward off infection.
The Right Mattress Can Save Your Sleep
When it comes to investing in a mattress, it’s just not worth losing a little sleep, especially now you’re clued in with just a few of the symptoms of sleep deprivation. When our busy lives constant of twenty-four-hour demands, it pays to purchase the right foam mattress. That's why there's Nectar. There’s a reason memory foam was developed by those smart folk at NASA: foam mattresses can reduce insomnia, sleeping too hot at night, and provide support and comfort in all the right places--crucial factors for keeping you feeling your best when you wake. Quite simply, your health starts from your bed, and if a foam mattress could reduce your symptoms of sleep deprivation long-term, well, you wouldn’t wait around, would you? Wondering how else