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We’ve all experienced it: that heaviness of trying to drag yourself through a day when you haven’t had enough sleep the night before.

Being tired makes everything more difficult, physically, emotionally and especially mentally – your concentration, creativity and communication skills all deteriorate.

Sleep issues can invisibly undermine relationships, both personal and professional : someone who’s struggling after a sleepless night will be far less receptive to your best efforts; and if your family or your staff haven’t slept well, it will be hard to even get their attention much less their full engagement.

Consider the challenges of an average day:

🐘 To be able to recall important information, solve problems as they arise (big and small), and make decisions,

🐘 To listen to others, to plan and arrange times for socialising and maintenance, and to empathize with others about their concerns.

🐘 You might need to be ‘on-call’ for calls or meetings or family dramas.

🐘 You need actual physical endurance to make it through the day.

Sleep is vital and often overlooked. We are quick to look at diet, supplements and stress, but often underestimate the impact of poor sleep. Your day’s demands require energy that only a good sleep can provide.

Sleep regenerates your body and your brain. But it’s not just the quantity that counts—it’s the quality too. Simply: the better you sleep, the better (and happier) you function.

You may not notice the difference between six hours of sleep and eight—but your brain and your body most certainly will, and it will have a profound impact on your neurological performance. 

If you’re suffering from poor sleep, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that a lack of Good Quality sleep is an official public health problem.

The first small step in solving a sleep problem is understanding it, so let’s address *the 7 Ways Sleep can Affect your Wellness*

🐘 Memory and recall

If you can’t recall these basic, vital facts, you can’t use them. And without quality sleep, your recall definitely suffers.

Think about all the stuff you know about the work you do every day. Everything from the how and why to the where and when is stored away in your brain.

Solution #1: Respect your sleep. It’s much more than just downtime. It’s a vital part of your wellness regime, alongside nutrition and movement. 

🐘 🐘 Focus and Cognitive Ability

Cognition is your ability to reason, plan, learn, and solve problems. Whenever you come up against a new or challenging situation, it’s your cognitive skills you require…

The most basic cognitive skill is the ability to pay attention; to focus on the task at hand. But when you haven’t slept enough, your mind easily loses focus, gets hazy and wanders off.

To other people, that can look like you’re not interested, even if that’s the opposite of how you really feel.

Solution #2: Create a healthy sleep environment—a comfortable, supportive bed, a good pillow, and a cool, dark room are ideal.  Your bed should be for reading, sleeping and sex exclusively; a haven for you to escape to at the end of each day.

🐘 🐘 🐘 Decision-Making & Problem-Solving 

Lack of sleep disrupts rational thinking. You’re more likely to make poor decisions and evaluate risks less efficiently when you haven’t slept well. You’ll find it tough to get to grips with the most simple of problems or decisions that would have been a no-brainer on another day.

As life gets more stressful or more demanding, your ability to navigate all this depends on healthy sleep.

Solution #3: Adopt a regular bedtime. This simple change encourages a healthier sleep cycle or circadian rhythm.  If you’re going through a tough patch, schedule your bedtime for 1 hour earlier than usual (!) to increase resilience & recovery.

🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 Creativity

REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement happens in your deepest sleep) is when your brain is most active and your dreams are most vivid. This phase is essential for creativity—in fact, some people even solve creative problems in their sleep.

Getting enough REM sleep, is a challenge.  The benefits will be a slew of great ideas, standout creative work, and creative problem-solving skills

Solution #4: Choose activities that slow you down before bed.  Night-time exercise, mentally stimulating games, intense movies or series’ that wind you up, (or even watching the news these days) shouldn’t be night-time activities.

🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 Mood

Without sleep you’re more susceptible to mood swings and bouts of depression that could potentially spiral into more serious mental wellness issues. (Sleep deprivation is a form of torture for a reason, healthy peeps)

When you’ve had a good night’s sleep, you’re far more likely to respond to all sorts of situations with more balance and composure.  Lack of sleep could translate into grouching at a partner or co-worker without good reason, or flying into a rage over a minor issue.

Solution #5: Try (it’s not easy, but it can be done) and let go of the day’s concerns.  Making a note of something you may need to remember for tomorrow will free it from your brain and allow sleep to come. Preparing for the next day, packing a bag, laying out clothes etc, is a way of freeing your mind of yet one more concern.

🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘  Empathy & Recognising Emotions in Others

Sleep deprivation affects your ability to recognize what other people are feeling, and can erode your emotional empathy.

If you’re not in tune with the emotions of those around you, that could make it harder to resolve a dispute, negotiate a deal, or conduct an interview, and a highly sensitive situation could spiral more easily.

Solution #6:  Don’t minimise the effect of screen-time on sleep.  Blue pixels misdirect your brain to think it’s the day, and no melatonin, your natural sleep hormone, will be secreted because your brain doesn’t know what is expected of it.  On that note, turning off your wi-fi can improve the quality of sleep – EMF’s are well known to be disruptive. 

🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘 🐘  Physical effects

Poor sleep has a very real impact on your body, particularly if it continues for several nights in a row… You start getting sleepy during waking hours, your attention drifts, and your reaction time suffers….

You might notice how you’re slumped down in your seat? (Over time, this poor posture can lead to headaches, back pain, and disrupted digestion.)

Since daytime fatigue affects your ability to react to hazards at a moment’s notice, it could become a matter of life or death. If you didn’t sleep well, don’t get behind the wheel…

Solution #7:  Don’t go to bed on a full tummy.  Eat supper early and resist the urge to snack at night.  If you go to bed with a full bladder your sleep will surely be disrupted – limit the amount you drink (even water) between suppertime and bedtime.

Talk about sleep problems if you’re struggling.  You’re not alone and there is help at hand.  We’re here for you, whenever you’re ready to ask…

Given how important it is to overall health, happiness and well-being, it’s surprising how little we talk about sleep.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels