Do you ever find yourself staying up later than you meant to, and dragging yourself out of bed the next morning? Recent figures suggest that you’re not alone. Apparently adults in the UK are under-sleeping by an hour a night. Or to put it another way, missing out on one whole night’s sleep EVERY week! We get an average of 6.8 hours sleep a night, even though we feel we need around 7.7 hours to be at our best.
(My apologies to the parents with young kids out there, for whom 6.8 hours would be more than enough, thank you very much!)
Why don’t we prioritise sleep?
Perhaps now more than ever, we are HOPELESS at switching off – and I include myself in this. Our ability to work from home, coupled with the almost limitless in-home entertainment options, is not helping. With the whole world at our fingertips, there is always one more thing to watch, one more thing to read, one more email to reply to…
Not only that, but scientists now believe that our electronic devices actually work against natural sleeping patterns. It is thought that the light from the screens interferes in the production of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. This means we find it harder to fall asleep, and harder to stay asleep.
While the optimum amount of sleep is debatable (and likely varies from person to person), the importance of sleep is undeniable. Take a look at this NHS feature if you need more convincing that a lack of sleep is bad for your health. It can put you at increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.
Beauty sleep is not a myth!
But sleep isn’t just important for our physical health and mental wellbeing. It’s also vital for healthy skin. The idea of “beauty sleep” isn’t an old wives’ tale. Sleep plays a very important role in skin health. This makes sense when you consider that the skin is our largest organ.
A 2013 study in the US found a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and common skin complaints. In other words, the less sleep you get, the more you may suffer from complaints such as skin ageing. The study also found a reduced ability to recover from damage like sunburn. It seems that the amount of sleep we get is an important factor in our skin’s capacity to repair itself.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a separate study in 2015 found that not getting enough sleep also makes use feel less attractive and can lower our self-esteem.
How can we get more sleep?
If you struggle to sleep well, don’t lose heart. There are plenty of practical steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep. The NHS has some excellent advice on how to fall asleep here, and 10 useful tips to tackle insomnia here.
There are many good reasons to make more time for sleep: we deserve it, and our bodies will thank us for it. We should be able to see the difference in our skin too! Time spent sleeping is definitely NOT time wasted.