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The link between sleep & health


Do you think you’re getting enough sleep?


The Australian National Sleep Foundation recommends that we aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure we get adequate amounts to best serve the multitude of functions it plays on our bodies health.


We’d need a blog as long as a global roadmap to list how many things sleep is tied into from a health perspective. However, just some of the vital things getting a good night’s sleep does includes:

  • Regulating a healthy metabolism and how our body uses the nutrients in our food we eat.

  • Regulating a stable mood and mindset so as to decrease neuroticism (a tendency towards negative emotion) and keep us more emotionally stable.

  • Regulating our higher cognitive functions and allowing us to better retain things with our memory and be less forgetful.

  • Assist in high sports and activity performances and better improvements in alertness and motor learning.

  • Helping assist in improved immune system responses relative to not sleeping enough. In other words we get less sick, less often.

While these are just some of the key functions of sleep it’s important to also understand that getting insufficient sleep can lead to problems in all of the above categories.


Examples of the above in cases of poor sleep length and quality can include higher body fat storage and increased muscle mass loss, poor mood state and irritability, impaired memory, worsening sport and athletic performance and a higher incidence of getting sick from opportunistic infections.


It may also be worth thinking about if you fit a higher risk category for insufficient sleep without having an actual sleeping disorder. This effects as much as 20% of the population and can include signs such as:

  • Voluntarily restricting your own sleeping time (not going to bed that half an hour early when you know it would serve you well otherwise).

  • Being of younger age, typically less than 39 years old.

  • Consuming excessive amounts or abusing alcohol.

  • Working excessive hours within the week that surpasses the 40 hour working week.

  • And stress and depression can impair sleep length and quality (so think about having a chat to your healthcare provider if you feel the situation is out of your control so you can discuss strategies and management options).

Not everyone is guided by the same advice to assist with their sleep. Think deeply about your habits and routines, what can you work on voluntarily right now to improve your sleeping habits?


General guidelines exist to help with this such as shutting off the television, computer and your phone 30-45 minutes before bed, dimming the lights in the home, ensuring you exercise in the earlier part of the day, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed, meditating and focusing on breathing and mindfulness or taking a warm bath or shower.


If all else fails, try speaking with your health practitioner - they may give you an option you haven’t thought of or be able to request for tests that can get to the bottom of what might be going on.

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