It's 6:30 a.m. and your alarm clock is blaring. Your brain is telling you to roll out of bed and get ready for the day, but your body feels like it's weighed down by a ton of bricks. You feel groggy, exhausted, and craving more sleep. Sound familiar? You're not alone.
Sleep deprivation has become a dangerous modern-day problem. A Deloitte Access Economics report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation found that 7.4 million Australians didn’t get enough sleep in 2016 and 2017. The same report found lack of sleep kills 3,017 people a year, including 394 who died in an industrial accident or after falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle. The impact of poor quality sleep on our community and on an individual level is more serious and damaging than people realise.
“With our increasingly busy, tech-driven lifestyles there is a growing temptation to use the dark, quiet hours that used to be spent asleep to pursue other activities…It might be work, social or family activities, or just “me time”. Swapping out this precious sleep has a devastating effect on the brain’s ability to refresh for the next day, leaving a person tired, moody, less productive and more accident prone.”
(Dr Hillman, Deputy Chair of Australia's Sleep Health Foundation)
Why is sleep so important? Here are the top 3 reasons why you should get serious about sleep:
1. Sleep strengthens your immune system and can help prevent serious health problems
The Sleep Health Foundation suggests that sound sleep is one of the three pillars of good health along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Chronic sleep disorders can lead to serious health problems such as increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Sleep plays a key role in your physical health and a strong immune system, and is involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels.
2. Sleep helps you focus and perform better at work and play
Research has shown that good quality sleep helps your brain function properly throughout the day. It helps you pay attention, be creative and make decisions. People who suffer from chronic sleep deficiency are less productive at work and school, have slower reaction times and are prone to making mistakes.
3. Quality sleep helps improve your mood
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, getting enough sleep is a key factor in our ability to deal with life's ups and downs and a busy schedule. Research suggests that 60-90% of patients with depression have insomnia. Poor sleep and depression are very closely linked and treating one condition will often improve the other.
Next time you're tempted to skimp on sleep think about how much your body and mind will thank you for prioritising your sleep health!