10 Reasons to get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep affects every aspect of our lives.  Our health, memory and even longevity are all dependant on us getting enough restful sleep.  There are so many reasons to get a good night’s sleep but here are my top 10….

  1. Anti-Aging and Good Health – Sleep is the body’s down time, a time for cells to repair.  Insufficient sleep is associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attack.  Sleep between 10pm and midnight is associated with improving longevity and aging.  This is largely to do with hormone activity that is connected with our circadian rhythms (our internal body clock).  Getting good sleep will make you feel healthier and may help you live longer and more healthily.
  2. Improving Immunity – Sleep is believed to boost your immunity as whilst you are sleeping your body produces protein molecules that can strengthen your ability to fight infection.
  3. Improving Memory – During sleep memories are strengthened and skills learned whilst you were awake are “practiced” (it’s a process called consolidation). When we learn something we get better with practice and it seems that performance is improved after allowing the learning to consolidate whilst we are sleeping.  Also, sleep deprivation interferes with our ability to recall simple information, making us feel like we are losing it.  Many of those memory issues and brain fog associated with things like menopause are largely a result of poor sleep.
  4. Creativity and Problem Solving – It is believed that whilst the brain is consolidating memories and learning during sleep, it also reorganises and re-structures memory. This can make us more creative and help solve problems.  That old advice to “sleep on it” really does help.
  5. Improved learning and concentration – there have been lots of studies, particularly with children, showing that sleep improves our ability to concentrate and focus and also improves our learning outcomes. People who sleep adequately get better results in exams for example.
  6. Maintaining a healthy weight – Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56% of their weight loss) than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. Those who had less sleep also felt hungrier.  This is because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).  This explains why we tend to feel more hungry and want to snack more after a poor night’s sleep.
  7. Decision making – Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making. We all know how much more difficult it is to think clearly and make a good decision when we are tired.  Did you know that just one night of insufficient sleep can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink!
  8. Emotional balance – Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, stress, irritability and depression and sufficient sleep can help us stay calm and reasonable.
  9. Stamina – not surprisingly sleep can improve our physical performance and stamina.
  10. Reducing stress – this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation as stress can interfere with sleep. However, finding ways to reduce stress can improve sleep ….. and taking steps to improve sleep can reduce stress levels.  Sleeping well is a win, win!

Healthy Work Life Balance

Many of us want a healthy work life balance in our lives.  An easy way of figuring out what needs to change is to imagine the different aspects of life as spokes on a wheel – your own Wheel of Wellbeing.  When some spokes are broken or short then the wheel is wonky, you can’t drive or roll very far.  The journey is also very bumpy and uncomfortable.  When the wheel is more balanced you can roll along nicely.It’s the same with work life balance but everyone’s ideal wheel is slightly different.

Here is a simple step by step way to create your own wheel so you can see where you need to make changes to create your own better work life balance. 

Step one: Take a clean sheet of paper and draw a small circle in the centre, this is the hub of your wheel.  Next draw 10 spokes going off that wheel and label each one as follows: 

  • good health
  • appropriate body weight/size
  • healthy diet & hydration 
  • exercise/physical activity
  • good quality sleep
  • self care (healthy habits, not smoking or binge drinking, saying no sometimes)
  • resilience (ability to cope with stress)
  • having fun, laughing and taking time out
  • enjoying my work day
  • having work that is fullfilling or meaningful to me

Step two :  Divide each spoke into 10 segments with 0 in the centre of the hub and 10 being the outer edge of the spoke.  Working with one spoke at a time, consider how you feel about this aspect of your wellbeing.  Where are you right now?  Rate your current level of satisfaction between 1 and 10 (with one as not satisfied and 10 completely satisfied).   For example, how do you feel about the amount of exercise you are getting?  Make a mark on the spoke to indicate where on a scale of 1 to 10 you feel you are.  This is not a case of whether you run a marathon each week, just whether you feel are happy with the level of exercise you currently, or whether ideally you would like to do more. Do this for each of your spokes.

Step Three: Draw a line joining all the marks on the spokes to see your finished wheel.  This is where you are currently. 

Step Four: Take a different coloured pen and draw an mark on each spoke for where the ideal balance for that topic would be for you.  Everyone is different and not everyone will feel the need for total satisfaction in every area – Some people will feel balanced when everything is a totally satisfied 10 and others will be fine with certain topics at 10 whilst others are a little lower down the scale. 

You now have a wheel that shows where you are now and where you would like to be in order to feel a greater sense of wellbeing. 

Next steps:  Every journey has a start and a destination.  You have just identified both.  You know where you are starting from right now and where you want to go to.  The next step is to figure out potential routes and choose the best one for you.  This is where some people find it helpful to work with a coach, someone who helps you identify the options available and select the best way for you to achieve the results you want. 

If you are working on your own I suggest you consider one spoke at a time as trying to tackle too many areas at once could leave you overwhelmed and frustrated.  Choose one spoke – perhaps one with a big difference between where you are and where you want to be.  Work out what you could do to improve your score.  Consider the options and choose the best for you right now.  Then COMMIT to take action and do the thing or things you have decided on. 

Assess your progress as you go – Is this plan working for you? Do you need to change anything? Are you keeping to your commitment?  If not, what is stopping you?  Remember that this is your wheel, your wellbeing and your solutions we are talking about. Nothing is fixed in stone, you can tweak it as you go.  The aim is to make it work for you so that you get closer to your ideal.

Making a change in just one or two areas can often lead to unexpected benefits as feeling healthy and having a great sense of wellbeing impacts all areas of our lives – including our work and our relationships.  

I appreciate that many people find it difficult to identify the actions they need to take, or to motivate themselves to take that action and keep on going.  If you are one of those people, please let me know and I will do my very best to help you.  I know only too well that being out of balance for long periods can lead to health problems, as it did for me.  Please make time to look after yourself and your wellbeing.

If you would like to talk to me about improving your wellbeing, or want support to help you stay motivated, please give me a call on 07962 896422.