How important is sleep? Are you getting in enough winks to perform your best? In this article, Clinical nutritionist Kirsten Beynon looks at where some of us are going wrong, the benefits of a good night's sleep on health - plus, 18 awesome (evidence-based) sleep hygiene tips!
Kirsten Beynon MSc, DipNut
We all know what it feels like to not have enough sleep for one night – cranky, unfocussed, sleepy, forgetful, accident-prone, poor physical performance and reaching for snacks that maybe aren’t our usual choices. It makes for a hard day, especially if you have to parent, work, learn, maintain relationships, drive, think or do anything that isn’t snoozing on the sofa being brought cups of tea.
When I was studying my Masters, the campus had a sleep research centre. We, as MSc students, were strongly discouraged from taking part in sleep studies, under threat of expulsion. The school recognised that sleep deprivation studies were not conducive to academic success (or keeping heads above water!). We occasionally heard tales of participants in sleep studies who were picked up by police for exhibiting strange behaviour and detained or ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act until they had recovered.
Chronic poor sleep is a significant health burden. We’re talking about the big stuff – cancer, diabetes, poor immune health, increased risk of car accidents, weight gain, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and other psychiatric disorders, fertility problems and overall poorer quality of life. (1)