The benefits of good sleep

We all know how it feels when we haven’t had enough sleep – our eyes feel gritty, we’re drowsy, we find it hard to concentrate and can generally feel like we’re below par, and unable to function well. But lack of sleep, or lack of good sleep, can mean more than this – it can actually damage our health and cause long-term problems.

the benefits of good sleep

We all know how it feels when we haven’t had enough sleep – our eyes feel gritty, we’re drowsy, we find it hard to concentrate and can generally feel like we’re below par, and unable to function well. But lack of sleep, or lack of good sleep, can mean more than this – it can actually damage our health and cause long-term problems.

Human sleep is a change in consciousness, prompted to kick in daily by our body clock (or ‘circadian clock’) to build up and keep all our body’s systems healthy. Prolonged sleep deprivation can make us prone to serious medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It’s really worth aiming for good quality sleep, here’s some important ways it can benefit and boost our health:

Dodge those colds

If we find we seem to catch every cold that’s going around, our sleep could be to blame. How does a lack of shut eye link to an overdose of nose mucus? Prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt our immune system making us less able to fend off bugs.

Feel better mentally

A good night’s sleep and we wake up feeling refreshed, strong and ready for the day. But when our sleep is continuously disrupted, to the point where we only get six hours or less of sleep a night, we can end up with mood disorders and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Think about it, you’ve seen torture in spy movies. For all the waterboarding and fingernail stripping, it always seems to be the lack of sleep which leads to panic, paranoia, mental instability and ultimately giving in. While that of course is an extreme, the longer you go without good sleep, the more tortured your brain may feel.

Feel more frisky!

If we don’t get enough good sleep, we can lose our interest in sex and have lower libidos.

Enough said!

Ward off heart disease and diabetes

It seems a lack of sleep can increase our heart rate and raise blood pressure putting a strain on our heart. It can also affect how our body processes glucose, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

So how can we catch up on our lost sleep and get our mojo back?

Well, we’re told there’s only one way to make up for lost sleep – and that’s to get more sleep. We have to build it back up in our ‘bank’ and kind of repay the ‘sleep debt’ that we’ve racked up. This can obviously take a while; it’s probably not realistic to do it all in one go, so we should maybe set about adding an hour or two per night at the weekend when we can wake naturally without having to set the alarm.

And for some ideas to help us get that extra sleep? It’s always better to get natural sleep than chemically-assisted sleep if we can, so instead of reaching for the sleeping pills or thinking that a joint before bed will help, we should try the following:

  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Avoid stimulants close to bedtime, like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Avoid drugs like marijuana that can help you get to sleep but can mean poor sleep quality.
  • Get some vigorous exercise early in the day – but only gentle, relaxing things like yoga close to bedtime.
  • Don’t eat big or spicy meals just before bed, and remember chocolate contains caffeine!
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark enough and not too hot or cold.
  • Keep to a regular time to go to bed, and don’t bring problems to bed that you will go over in your mind.
  • Bed is for sleep – not computers, phones or TV.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about sleep, and how cannabis use affects sleep, see some of our helpful resources:

https://ncpic.org.au/cannabis-you/tools-for-quitting/cannabis-sleep-centre/

https://ncpic.org.au/professionals/publications/bulletins/cannabis-and-sleep-a-complex-and-unfinished-story/

https://ncpic.org.au/professionals/publications/online-catalogue?searchinput=marijuana+use+patterns+and+sleep+among+community+based+young+adults/

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