Why do we sleep?
We still don’t really know, but we do know that we need it. Sleep allows our bodies to carry out functions that are vital for our physical and mental wellbeing, leading to a whole range of benefits…
- Cell growth and repair – during sleep, new cells grow and existing cells are repaired, keeping us healthy, and our immune system strong
- Memory – while we sleep our brains move short-term memories into long-term storage, especially important for young minds learning about the world or studying for exams
- Relaxation – sleep gives us respite from the information overload of the day
- Healthy eating – good sleep balances production of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which help us to follow a healthy diet rather than craving more carbs
- Concentration – healthy sleep helps us to function better during the day, driving more safely, working and studying more effectively, getting more out of the activities we enjoy
- Good mood – after a good night’s sleep we usually feel happier, and more able to deal with the issues life throws at us
- Social interaction – feeling rested helps us to keep an eye on our actions, taking fewer risks, reacting appropriately to other people, enjoying others’ company
- Energy – a good sleep pattern means we have the energy to get the most out of the time when we’re awake
For young people, this means:
- Healthy growth
- Positive mood and sociability
- Better mental health
- Doing better at school
- Enjoying life
- Improved immunity and better recovery from illness
- Healthy weight
Having difficulty sleeping?
If you are struggling to sleep at night you are not alone, many people go through times when they find sleeping difficult. It can happen due to thinking about difficult memories, school life and exams, home life, relationships, even your diet and routine can have an effect.
It can make it harder to concentrate during the day, or make you feel low and less able to cope.
Coping with the stress that you are experiencing can really help you to sleep better. CLICK HERE to read more about this.
1. Focus on your breathing
Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Some people find it helps to close their eyes and count to 4 when they breathe in, and to 7 when they breathe out.
2. Turn off social media
It can tempting to look at your phone when you’re worried or stressed. You might want to distract yourself or be worried about missing something. But taking a break can help you to relax.
3. Chat to someone
Talk to someone you trust at home, allowing you to unburden yourself and be heard. Sharing worries can really help de-stress you.
3. Relax before going to bed
Some people find reading helpful. But stick to paper books – the light from computer screens and some e-readers can make it harder to fall asleep. It’s best if you have no screen time for at least 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.
4. Make sure you’re comfortable
Not too hot or cold, and that the room you’re in isn’t too noisy or bright.
5. Do some exercise
Don’t overdo it, but try some regular swimming or walking. The best time to exercise is in the daytime – particularly late afternoon or early evening. Later than this can disturb your sleep. Exercise burns off excess energy and releases endorphins – natural chemicals that help you de-stress, feel less anxious and more relaxed.
6. Write it down
If something is troubling you and there’s nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed. Once it’s written down, you can tell yourself you’ll deal with it tomorrow.
7. List things that make you feel good
These don’t have to be big things – they could include the weather, your favourite song or someone in your life that you enjoy seeing. Keep the list nearby.
8. Only use your bed for sleep
If you can’t get to sleep after about 20 minutes, get up and do something that relaxes you. When you feel ready, go back to bed.
9. Picture yourself in your favourite place
Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your favourite place or where you want to be one day. Imagine yourself happy and relaxed. Slowly breathe in and out, relaxing your muscles until you feel a sense of calm.
10. Avoid caffeine and sugar
They’re stimulants, which mean they’ll stop you from getting to sleep. Caffeine can stay in your body for hours after you’ve had chocolate, a fizzy drink, tea or coffee. Try not to drink caffeinated drinks after mid-afternoon and cut down on sugar in the evening.
11.Don’t lie in too long
If you’ve had a bad night, don’t sleep in the next day. It’ll just make it harder to get to sleep the following night. Set an alarm 10 minutes before you’d usually get up to give yourself more time in the morning.
Sleep Scotland’s Support Line: To access this support, contact us on 0800 138 6565, Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm.
Getting the support you need to achieve a good night’s sleep CLICK HERE for more information.
You may have question check out some of the answers we have put together HERE