Zzzz... Sleep and health, why it's important to get those hours in

Zzzz... Sleep and health, why it's important to get those hours in

13 January 2017

Have you ever woken up early for the usual morning commute but known full well that, having struggled to get to sleep for much of the night, you have only slept for about four or five hours?

If so, you are unlikely to need us to tell you that grumpiness and lingering tiredness are two major effects of insufficient sleep. However, there are various other, but easier to overlook, ways in which a lack of sleep can adversely affect you. Below, we detail some of them also explained by the NHS...

Sleep improves your immunity

Do you often find yourself picking up one cold or flu after another, while everyone you know at home and work seems to be more often in fine fettle? If so, look at how much sleep you are getting nightly. We say this because, if you are constantly getting too little sleep, your immune system could be compromised. This means that your body will be less capable of keeping bugs at bay.

So, how much sleep should you actually aim for per night? For most people, about eight hours of good quality sleep is necessary; however, the required amount can be more for some people and less for others. Generally, if you feel tired when waking up and then feel the urge for a nap during the day, you are likely getting too little slumber.

Sleep can make you slimmer

Fighting the flab seems to be a constant struggle for many of us. However, if it's a constant struggle for you in particular, you should stop to consider whether your sleeping routine could be - at least partly - to blame. Studies have indicated that people who sleep for under seven hours daily tend to put on more weight and be at greater risk of turning obese than people getting seven hours' sleep.

It is thought that this is the case because there are reduced amounts of leptin - the chemical responsible for making you feel full - in sleep-deprived people, who also have higher levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone called ghrelin.

There's another, less direct way in which sleeping more can slim you more: it can give you more energy which you can then burn exercising at one of our fitness boot camps. And regular exercise can itself help you to sleep better. Shape observes that, among respondents to a National Sleep Foundation survey, those identifying as exercisers reported sleeping better than self-identified non-exercisers.

Sleep boosts fertility

Whether you are a man or woman, if you are currently trying to conceive a baby with your partner, you should make sure that both of your daily routines include enough sleep. That's because sleep deprivation has been claimed to negatively affect fertility in both men and women. Apparently, when sleep is regularly disrupted, the secretion of reproductive hormones can be reduced. Research also shows that a lack of quality sleep could decrease the appetite for sex. This, too, could - albeit less directly - affect your success in conceiving.