Life can be hectic and sometimes sleep can be overlooked, neglected in favour of squeezing in a session at the gym, an extra couple of hours at the office, or maybe because you think just one more episode of your favourite Netflix programme won’t hurt. However, sleep is more important than you might think.
This is the time your body uses to replenish you mental and physical health, it can be compared to rebooting a computer but instead of waiting 30 seconds before turn back on you need 8 hours. A lack of sleep can lead to an alarming number of negative effects on the body.
Mentally a person may experience impaired short-term and long-term memory, problems with the decision-making process, and can cause periods micro sleep. This is where you are asleep for a few seconds without realising and can be incredibly dangerous if you’re driving or doing other activities requiring you be alert to avoid accidents.
If sleep deprivation continues long enough it can weaken the body’s immune system increasing the risk of illness, according to the Mayo Clinic. It may take longer to recover from illnesses as well as increase the likelihood of developing chronic illness in the future, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. According to Harvard Medical School one night without enough sleep can cause raised blood pressure throughout the whole of the next day for individuals with hypertension.
Further to this, Harvard Medical School studies show that less than five hours sleep a night increases the risk of death by about 15 percent compared with all other causes. That scary stuff!
Sleepio conducted the Great British Sleep Survey in 2012 which had some interesting results.
“Women have a 10% lower average Sleep Score and a higher percentage of long-term poor sleepers than we find with male respondents. However, the impact of poor sleep is remarkably similar between genders – energy, relationships and mood are the top three most affected areas for both men and women.”
“An incredible 42% of those on sleeping pills have had sleep problems for over a decade.”
This strongly suggests that sleeping pills are not effective for people with long term sleep problems. It could also point towards evidence that sleeping pills are being taken by those who shouldn’t be, according to NHS guidelines. Sleeping pills are not designed for long-term poor sleepers because long-term problems can be indicative of an underlying health concern that needs proper investigation.
Massage and Sleep
As I’m sure you know, massage is great for relaxation and if you’re feeling relaxed then you’re far more likely to have a quality night of sleep. “What about insomnia?!” I hear you ask! Well, there have been several studies into the effectiveness of massage therapy for people with sleep disorders, insomnia in particular, and the results are positive.
This is believed to be due to massage causing an increase of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. The serotonin is synthesised by the pineal gland, located in the brain, to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates our body’s circadian rhythm (internal 24 hour body clock). The melatonin signals to the body that it is time to sleep, thus a regular massage routine, especially in the evening can help reset your sleep/wake cycle.