We all know how important sleep is, right? And we all know how rubbish we feel after a night of tossing and turning while our brains keep whirring at a hundred miles an hour, worrying about all kinds of things that may or may not even be real.
Sound familiar? Well, you’re certainly not alone. A rising tide of insomnia is sweeping the nation, and for many affected people, it’s not just the odd night where they can’t fall asleep and stay there. Their insomnia has become chronic and is starting to overshadow everything they do in life. It’s affecting their productivity, motivation, mood, memory and concentration, and they’re starting to notice the impact on their job, business or career.
Maybe their overall health and relationships are suffering too, and those who are self-aware enough to realise that something big is fundamentally wrong are wondering, on the quiet, if they are actually losing their minds. The doorway to depression and anxiety is wide open, along with systemic problems like digestive dysfunction, skin disorders, adrenal stress, raised blood pressure and heart rate. Research is increasingly finding a link between chronic sleep deprivation and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
This is the erosive, corrosive reality of sleep deprivation. Our brains and bodies are closely interconnected, and what affects one will have an impact on the other. As homo sapiens, we are, quite literally, miracles of science that are biologically designed to reach a baseline level of sleep where certain brainwaves kick in to promote physical and emotional healing. The problem is, too many of us are just not getting there. We have too much to think and worry about all day long; the brain just can’t switch off at night. The supportive hormones we need aren’t coming through, and the ones we don’t need are taking over and wreaking havoc with our finely tuned, delicately balanced systems. A sleep disorder can rock up and get settled in before we’re even aware it’s happened. The first and biggest casualty is damage to the immune system, and it’s all downhill from there.
The pandemic has starkly shown us that the health service we’ve always relied on so heavily in the past is no longer guaranteed to capably meet our needs, and we must therefore bear more responsibility for our own health. Sleeping well is the fundamental cornerstone of good health and well-being, and if we can get a handle on that, we’ll see immediate benefits: increased energy levels, sense of control, rational thinking, mental clarity, stability of mood, physical comfort, and productivity.
We all want to be the best we can be, in all areas of our lives, especially when it comes to generating income and providing for our families. For people with a long-standing history of sleep deprivation (say, 6 months or more), it may be appropriate to seek support to learn to sleep properly again, not just as a luxury, but as a powerful preventative strategy to avoid developing the kind of life-limiting and life-shortening illnesses that are increasingly being linked to lack of sleep.