All of our daily activities have the potential to contribute positively or negatively to our health and wellbeing. Obvious examples of these activities are eating and exercising, and we make choices around these activities every day to benefit our health. For example, when it comes to our diet, we choose what we eat, when we eat and how we eat.
Another daily activity that we spend a huge amount of our time doing is… sleeping! (approximately 1/3 of our day to be exact!), yet many of us can take this important daily activity for granted and may never have thought about how we sleep or the impact this could be having on our health and wellbeing.
That is of course, unless you are a “bad sleeper”, in which case you will be all too aware of how important this little activity really is!
Without it, we begin to suffer in many ways and can struggle to “function” throughout the day. For example, you may notice concentration and memory problems, you may feel agitated and irritable and you may even notice an increase in anxiety or low mood.
Adequate and restorative sleep provides the fuel we need to perform all of our daily life activities.
We tend to think of sleeping as a quiet and restful time, where we simply “unplug” and “shut down”, however this couldn’t be further from the reality! In fact, our body’s and brains are remarkably active during sleep, working hard to process, restore and strengthen various systems.
We need sleep for our brain, heart & lung health, immune system, tissue & cell repair, hormonal function and to regulate our mood. One of the vital roles sleep has on our brain function for example, is to process and store much of the information our brains have taken in throughout the day, and transfer the information from short term storage into our stronger longer-term memory.
When the quality or quantity of our sleep is insufficient to support adequate performance, alertness and health, we suffer from “Sleep insufficiency”. If this is acute, it is usually short term, and our normal sleeping pattern resumes after a few days or so with minimal disruption to our health. However, if this becomes chronic or long term, poor sleep can eventually lead to various health problems like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes, as well as increasing the risk for accidental injury such as traffic accidents, etc.
With this in mind, sleep should be an important consideration for all of us when we are thinking of ways to maximise and maintain our health.
A series of workshops called 'Improve Sleep. Improve Health.' will be delivered by Kimberley Clarke, Occupational Therapist at Strive Clinic, beginning on Wednesday January 31st at 7pm and continuing for 3 weeks. This series of workshops will provide you with the knowledge and tools to help improve both your sleep quality and quantity. More information here.
To schedule an individual consultation with Kimberley Clarke at Strive Clinic Galway to assess your sleeping patterns and develop individualised, practical strategies to improve your sleep quality, you can call 091 393 180 to schedule an appointment.