According to the World Health Organization , an adult should sleep between 7 and 8 hours every night to ensure their physical and psychological well-being. This recommendation, which we often overlook, is much more important than it seems at first sight.
The quality of our sleep has a lot to tell us about our physical and psychological functioning. Looking at Australia as a case study, it is clear to see that lack of sleep has become a national epidermic, which is affecting the way people live their lives.
According to a study by the Sleep Health Foundation, between 33 and 45% of Australia’s have poor sleep patterns, which causes fatigue and irritability, thereby increasing their risk of mental health issues, low productivity and irrational behaviors.
Director of the Sleep Health Foundation, Dr David Hillman, revealed that , “Overall, 44% of adults are on the Internet just before bed almost every night and 59% of these late night workers, web surfers, movie watchers or online gamers have more than two sleep problems,”
“The result is a less productive, less safe and less pleasant work and family environment… Accident risk goes up, workplace performance goes down and your mood, your heart and your blood pressure can all be affected.”
HOW CAN LACK OF PROPER SLEEP AFFECT YOUR DAY?
On a physical level , we have all noticed the consequences that a bad night brings to the body; we feel tired, not wanting to perform those activities that we like so much, like going for a walk, going out to dinner or doing sports. It is clear that lack of sleep weakens our organism . Moreover, those people who sleep less than 6 hours each night have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
On the psychological level it is very easy, too, to recognize the consequences of one or several bad nights: our brain becomes unproductive and those activities that need concentration and attention become too dense and heavy.
According to a study carried out, a person deprived of sleep increases up to 60% the discomfort or ability to deal with negative situations, since it activates the same area of the brain that is related to psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression and others. This may explain why people act more aggressively and irrationally in the world of today, where frantic lifestyle is common, especially in the big cities.
IMPORTANCE OF ADEQUATE SLEEP
While we sleep, the cells are oxygenated and regenerated, our skin rests and the appearance is healthier. When we do not sleep well, dark circles and other signs appear on the skin.
Proper sleep helps us maintain a healthy weight. Lack of adequate sleep makes us accumulate fats that are difficult to lose and increase our appetite.
On a physical level, the body receives the necessary rest to face another frantic day of activity. This is more important in children: In the sleep stages the growth hormone is generated, so we can say that while they sleep, they grow!
Adequate sleep favors the prevention of diseases such as hypertension and takes care of our heart.
While we sleep, our brain works and orders everything that has been processed during the day. The brain needs sleep to process information. Sleeping well favors memorization and learning.
Sleeping well, allows us to be rested and helps us to think clearly and be more agile in our cognitive and thinking tasks.
A good rest is essential for emotional health. When we do not sleep properly, we become irritable, we are more pessimistic and we tend to nurture negative thoughts that affect our emotions.
What is the best sleeping position? Face down? Face up? Sideways? The best posture is the one that gives us a greater sensation of relaxation when we wake up.
Face up (On your back)
This is the healthiest sleeping position, ideal for balancing body weight, keeping your internal organs aligned, and preventing neck and back pain . Just make sure you keep a pillow under your knees to help maintain the correct alignment of your back.
Fetal position (On your side)
It is the most recommended for people suffering from back pain , as it is a neutral position for the spine, preventing weight from falling on it. If the right side is chosen, the hip and left knee should be flexed, regardless of whether the other knee is straight or not and the shoulders are turned. Then adapt the pillow to the neck, adopting a curvature similar to that formed when we are standing. Also with this position you can avoid or reduce breathing difficulties that in another position could arise.
Experts agree that the worst sleeping position, the one we should avoid, is sleeping face down on our stomach . In this position our spine is completely misaligned and a lot of pressure is generated in the lower back, which can make us wake up with back pain. In addition, if we sleep face down we will have to place the neck with excessive rotation that can lead to cervical discomfort.
It is very important to pay attention to the type and quality of pillow used in sleeping. We must choose a pillow with the appropriate thickness: that is neither too high nor too low. The pillows must be clean, and not only the covers, but also their interior, to avoid the proliferation of mites and bacteria in them.