The importance of a good night’s sleep: Dr David Crichton

The slogan for this year’s world sleep day, held on March 19 was ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future’. It made me consider the importance of sleep when achieving an optimal quality of life and how a good night’s sleep can improve your health and wellbeing.

40% of children and adults suffer with sleep issues at some point in their lives. If we can detect the reason early enough, we can work on prevention and support healthier living.

We have all experienced a bad night’s sleep, however when this is a long-term issue it can have serious effects on how we live and how our bodies develop and react.

We need sleep to rejuvenate our bodies, grow muscle, repair tissue, and perform other essential tasks. We also require sleep to keep our brain healthy. A lack of sleep increases stress and can trigger depressive episodes. Ironically, being stressed and depressed can make it harder to fall asleep.

Many people have experienced anxiety because of Covid-19 and the restrictions and changes it’s brought about could also contribute to a lack of restful sleep.

Research suggests that sleep deprivation contributes towards an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and growth.

If you regularly suffer from a lack of sleep, it’s important to identify the factors that are causing it in the first instance. These could be things like; medication, daily routines, mental health issues, lifestyle choices, physical conditions and children keeping you awake at night. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what the trigger is because there are lots of services in Doncaster that can help you.

It’s important to remember than many children and teenagers also suffer from sleep deprivation. It could be down to something as simple as bedtime routine, something they are eating or the anxiety and stress of everyday life. Whatever the issue, it’s important you can access guidance and support.

Support can vary depending on the assumed cause of the sleep deprivation. You may need to change your diet, medication, routine, exercise etc. A good resource is the ‘10 tips to beat insomnia’. If your problems continue a sleep advisor or your GP will be able to support you and / or signpost you to relevant services.

We are extremely lucky in Doncaster to have the gold standard, nationally recognised ‘sleep charity’, who offer advice and support to those suffering with sleep deprivation. I recommend that anyone suffering with sleep deprivation contact the sleep charity via the website or telephone 01302 751416.

If you feel that a lack of sleep is having an effect on your mental health you may wish to visit the ‘mind’ website for more information, tips to improve your sleep and further access to useful contacts. Find out more about why a lack of sleep is bad for your health here.

Always remember to look after yourself, work on getting regular quality sleep and live a healthy future!

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