To celebrate World Sleep Day, Forty Winks have partnered with sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo, for a look at how regular sleep may improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
Proper sleep; we all want it, yet in our stressed, tech addicted society, it seems to escape most of us.
Research shows post COVID19, there has been a 59% increase in Aussies experiencing subpar sleep. It’s hardly surprising though - primary factors to sabotage sleep include devices, anxiety and alcohol use - all of which have risen independently, let alone all together.
Needless to say, we as a nation need sleep support; stat!
Thus, on behalf of Forty Winks, as Australia’s leading sleep expert, it’s a pleasure to bring you my nine years of academics to provide straightforward, science-based solutions on how to get your best night’s sleep.
Before I do though, it’s important to know - what IS regular sleep, and how does it equate to a healthier future?
What is regular sleep?
Regular sleep is the ability to fall asleep within 30 minutes, wake to use the bathroom once or twice through the night; and in the morning, feel refreshed and energised. It infers you will have healthy sleep architecture, and have four to five sleep cycles.
As noted in research papers, this means in the first two thirds of the night, this cycling through non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages 1 and 2 and slow wave sleep (SWS) will occur. In the last one third of the night, you’ll cycle between NREM stages 1 and 2, and REM sleep.
Furthermore, you’ll sleep for seven to nine hours. This number will vary due to sleep Chrono type, genes, and amount of sleep debt you’ve accumulated.
For example, scientific evidence from the University of California indicates those with a mutation in their DEC2 genes will typically sleep for 6.25 hours, whereas those without it will sleep for 8.06 hours.
Therefore, optimal, regular and healthy sleep for you may not be exactly the same as your partner or friends, but it should look roughly the same!
Regular sleep cycles include seven to nine hours sleep per night.
How does it mean a healthy future - physically?
This largely comes down to Human Growth Hormone - the primary neurotransmitter to control muscle recovery, repair and tissue growth.
Sleep is critical for its synthesis - 70% is produced in slow wave sleep alone.
This is why we feel so physically exhausted after inadequate rest: the hormone we need to aid muscle recovery hasn’t been sufficiently produced.
Second to that, sleep is pivotal for immunity: a recent study found those sleeping six hours were four times as likely to catch a cold, compared to those who only slept one hour more (seven hours).
Researchers noted this was regardless of age, race, income and even smoking status - the risk came down to one specific factor: hours of sleep.
also indicates inadequate sleep leads to a 28% decline in Natural Killer cell activity - cells which normally seek and destroy bacteria, viruses and colds - hence the above.
Especially with COVID19 still bubbling away, we need to appreciate sleep as a necessity - not just an afterthought.
How does it mean a healthy future - mentally?
Firstly, academic research
found cortisol, a hormone that can leave you feeling stressed, wired and unable to switch off, can increase by 37% after only one night of insufficient sleep. After two nights, this rises to 45% - leaving you even more anxious.
If you’ve noticed your mind is racing at a million miles an hour after a lack of sleep, this factor alone can help explain why.
Akin to that, evidence
indicates 83% of those with depression lack adequate sleep: sleep typically restores normative functioning of happiness hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.
This also explains why after a night or two of late nights and early mornings, you are likely to feel flat.
Conversely, with sufficient sleep, you’re less likely to feel anxious and depressed - rather, you’ll feel like your upbeat, zesty self.
Regular sleep may reduce anxiety, and improve focus and clarity
How does it mean a healthy future - cognitively?
This can largely be explained by beta amyloid (aB), which is a neurotoxin to contribute to memory loss.
Essentially, sleep is required for the detoxification process: studies
show just one
night of inadequate sleep increases aB levels by 5% - let alone weeks, months or even years of sleep loss.
Without this clearance, we struggle to recall information from long term memory - and will struggle to retain new information too.
For those with extensive memory loss - older adults - Research
shows 20% will have above average levels of beta amyloid, compared to less than 1% of adults below 60.
Along similar lines, after proper sleep we regain frontal lobe functioning - the brain region responsible for attention, concentration, decision making and judgement.
Again, for those with inadequate sleep, if you’ve noticed you can’t think clearly or remember anything accurately, this is exactly why.
Thus: be it for mental, physical or brain health, sleep is the vehicle to get there.
Written by Sleep Expert Olivia Arezzolo.
Olivia is a Sleep Expert (Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); Certificate of Sleep Psychology, Diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV).
Featured on The Today Show and regularly writing with Daily Mail, news.com.au and Body and Soul; Olivia’s expertise is delivering straightforward, science-based strategies to improve sleep.