Why is Quality Sleep a Key Pillar in Health and Wellbeing?

Contribution from Karoline Cairns

Why is Quality Sleep a Key Pillar in Health and Wellbeing?

One in three Canadians sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night, according to Statistics Canada, and if you are one of them, your physical and mental health and wellbeing can be under threat. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that after just one night of inadequate sleep, pain-sensing parts of the brain become more active, and the result, is an increase pain the next day. The study is just one of many that point to the inexorable link between sleep and good health. Whether you wish to lose weight, you are fighting chronic pain, or you want to reduce your risk of road accidents, one thing you should give priority to in your life - is sleep.

The Physical Effects of Poor Sleep

Many studies have shown that poor sleep can hamper the health in many ways, both small and large. A 2016 study by the Radiological Society of North America, for instance, showed that a lack of sleep affects cardiac function. Another (2019) study found that those who sleep less than six hours nightly may be at an increased risk of cardiac disease, compared to those who enjoy seven to eight hours of rest. Other studies have shown the link between sleep deprivation and metabolic syndrome, hormonal alterations, and even lower immunity. The physical effects of sleep are so wide ranging that they more than merit giving good sleep due importance in your everyday life.

Sleep and Mental Health and Wellbeing

From the time we are young, good sleep is key. A 2016 study showed that children with sleep disorders have a higher risk of developing psychiatric problems later in life. Sleep deprivation also causes mood disorders in teens, mental lapses and irritability in adults, and a higher chance of depression and anxiety. Serious conditions like sleep apnea, meanwhile, can cause gaps in life memories. The effects of sleep on focus, concentration, and mood are well known. However, its true significance has come to be discovered fully over the past few years.

The Difference between Sleep Quantity and Quality

Often, people sleep poorly without knowing it, That is, they go to bed with enough time to get their targeted seven-to-nine hours of sleep, yet wake up feeling fatigued, irritable, and sometimes, in pain. The reason for the above is that sleep quality is not the same thing as sleep quantity. To sleep truly well, you need to meet specific requirements. For instance, you should ideally fall asleep within half an hour of getting into bed and wake up no more than once during the night.

How can Testing Help?

Sometimes, it is easy to identify what is interfering with sleep quality. For instance, if you share a bed with a spouse who works shift hours (or very different shifts to your own), your partner wakes up frequently to go to the bathroom, or watches TV while you are trying to fall asleep, one solution may be to sleep alone. At other times, however, the problem may not be so obvious. For instance, your sleep might be affected by sleep apnea - and you may not even know you have a problem. If you suspect you are not sleeping as well as you should, or you feel fatigued in the day time, visit drcobi and ask about their Sleep Disturbance Testing services. Knowing what you are up against is the first step towards change.

Natural Solutions to Poor Sleep Quality

Sometimes, simply adopting a strict bedtime routine, eliminating stimulating beverages in the afternoon and evening, and creating a quiet, dark bedroom, can help eliminate the problem of poor sleep. Your doctor, therapist, or consultant may recommend that you exercise during the day, or take up stress busting activities like meditation and exercise - proven in many studies to reduce stress. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the use of a device that opens your airways may be a solution; at other times, surgery may be recommended.

If you suspect you aren’t resting as well as you should, find out the cause. The consequences of just ‘letting it go’ and hoping the problem improves on its own, are too high. Poor sleep can interfere with a plethora of physiological functions, but also make you irritable, depressed, and fatigued. Finding out what is causing the problem is the first step towards feeling vital, rested, and happy, so give sleep the starring role it should have in your life.

Karoline Cairns worked for many years as a general practitioner before leaving to pursue her passion for writing. She enjoys her more relaxed lifestyle and spends her time with her children or reading a book.