National Bed Month: How Sleep Impacts Your Health

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Sleep Lab - National Bed Month

March is not just about the arrival of spring; it’s also National Bed Month, a time to emphasise the importance of quality sleep. While it’s common knowledge that sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing, its profound impact on the brain is often underestimated.

Experts recommend that healthy adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night, with those under 18 requiring more to enable their growth and development1. However, in a recent survey, it found that over half of UK adults are not getting enough sleep2.

Why is Sleep Health Important?

Teresa Cullen, Clinical Research Scientist at MAC Clinical Research, said: “Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining brain health and function. During sleep, the brain undergoes various essential processes such as reinforcing the cardiovascular and immune systems and helping to regulate metabolism.

“Adequate sleep supports cognitive functions like learning, decision-making, and problem-solving. Chronic sleep deprivation can impair attention, memory, and emotional regulation, leading to decreased productivity and an increased risk of neurological disorders such as dementia and depression.

“Therefore, prioritising quality sleep is essential for overall brain health and optimal cognitive performance.”

Sleep and Cognitive Function

One of the most crucial aspects of sleep is its role in cognitive function. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories and information gathered throughout the day, a process vital for learning and retaining new skills.

Research has shown that sleeping an average of seven to eight hours each day is related to better brain health3, allowing for improved concentration, problem-solving abilities, and creativity compared to those who are sleep deprived.

Moreover, sleep plays a crucial role in decision-making processes, as fatigue impairs judgment and increases the likelihood of making errors, for example, in the workplace. The UK government estimates that 200,000 working days are lost every year due to insufficient sleep4.

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep is closely linked to emotional regulation and mental health. Adequate sleep fosters resilience to stress and enhances emotional stability, whilst, sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Research estimates that 40% of people with insomnia (the inability to fall asleep) are living with clinical depression, and up to 80% of patients with depression experience periods of insomnia5.

The brain’s ability to regulate emotions relies heavily on proper sleep cycles, as sleep deprivation disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation.

Sleep and Physical Health

The impact of sleep on brain health extends beyond cognition and emotional wellbeing; it also plays a vital role in physical brain health. During sleep, the brain undergoes a process of detoxification, clearing out toxins and waste products accumulated throughout the day. Chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity6 have also been linked to poor sleep quality.

Prioritising Sleep

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the significance of sleep and prioritise productivity over rest. However, National Bed Month serves as a reminder of the critical role sleep plays in maintaining brain health and overall well-being.

By prioritising quality sleep habits, such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a conducive sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques, individuals can help unlock the full potential of their brains and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

If you or a loved one is living with sleep issues such as insomnia or sleep apnoea, did you know that MAC Clinical Research offer sleep assessments at their state-of-the-art sleep clinic in Merseyside.

The sleep clinic uses the latest sleep technology and has five individually designed bedrooms (with ensuite) to optimise diagnostic accuracy and the patient experience. Our experienced sleep technicians and clinical teams monitor and analyse the data that is recorded overnight to enable diagnosis of complex sleep disorders.

We accept referrals from a variety of Medical Specialists and also via direct self-referral for patients who are self-funding (please contact the clinic for prices).

Our service is recognised by several private health insurers who may cover the cost of your diagnostic assessment, depending on the level of your cover. Please check with your own insurer before scheduling your appointment.

To find out more about our sleep clinic and register your details, visit our sleep clinic webpage.

1 Sleep Foundation – How Much Sleep Do You Need?

2 Aviva – Nearly half of Brits are kept awake at night by cost of living

3 Age UK – Sleep and brain health

4 UK Health Security Agency – Is lack of sleep affecting your work?

5 Sleep Foundation – Depression and Sleep

6 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – Sleep and Sleep Disorders

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