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  • Writer's pictureSaving Grace Medical Academy Ltd

World Sleep Day?

Did we sleep through world sleep day?

Or did we simply miss that March 15, 2024 was the day to celebrate sleep?

World Sleep Day Poster
World Sleep Day

Well, if your like me, you’ve probably been up since 4am, or like some of my Video Game friends "haven't even gone to sleep yet!". Consistently missing out on enough or good quality sleep can lead to concerning side effects, especially with early wake-ups. Sleep practitioner and sleep posture expert, James Leinhardt, joined Metro.UK and quoted that "the idea of needing the ‘magic eight hours of sleep’ is a misconception." James says, ‘For most people, eight hours is unrealistic… not even one in five people manage to achieve eight hours. The main focus should be on sleep quality, not quantity.’

James explains that a good quality night’s sleep is what truly matters, regardless of whether you wake up at 6am or get a full eight hours. However, if you’re consistently getting less sleep and it’s poor quality, your body will quickly become worn out.

Dr. Anita Raja, an NHS GP and health consultant on BBC Morning Live and Good Morning Britain, shared some signs that early commutes might be taking a toll. She explains that lack of sleep can harm our health by reducing the production of proteins called cytokines, which protect us against infection and disease. Without enough sleep, our body’s defense against infections weakens.

Anita adds that poor sleep leads to a significant loss in productivity, with 23 to 45% of the population losing more than two work weeks worth of productivity each year. A tired brain is like a tired muscle—it needs rest to function properly. Sleep allows your brain to recharge for the next day.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that 45% of the population doesn’t get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep affects memory consolidation, leading to increased forgetfulness and cognitive decline. Anita points out that there are different types of memories—procedural, fact-based, and episodic—and that memory consolidation occurs during sleep. Without enough sleep, memories become difficult to recall. "That explains that!"

Tips to help Children Sleep at night.
Sleep Tips for Children

Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Anita explains that lack of sleep affects the metabolism of sugars (glucose) in our bodies, increasing the risk of type two diabetes. Symptoms include frequent urination, constant thirst, extreme fatigue, unexplained weight loss, itching, slow-healing cuts, and blurred vision.

A study in the European Heart Journal surveyed 10,312 participants and found that the optimal sleep onset time for the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease is between 10:00 pm and 10:59 pm.

Anita also notes that poor sleep can lead to irritability and low energy, impacting performance in academic or work settings. Psychologist Dr. Meg Arrol suggests journaling as a way to manage mental health and stress, either at the start of the day or before bed. This can help bring focus and mindfulness into the moment.

For those struggling to get good quality sleep, James recommends adjusting your night-time sleep posture. The Dreamer position, a semi-fontal side-lying position with bent knees, is shown to reduce tension on the spine. Using a pillow between your knees and ankles can help maintain this posture and prevent your body from twisting during the night.

Dr. Anita suggests avoiding screens, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages before bed. Taking a shower or bath can help your body relax into “silent mode.” To make waking up easier, expose yourself to natural light in the morning. James advises sleeping with your curtains open to stop your brain from producing melatonin, the sleep hormone.

By focusing on sleep quality and making small adjustments to your sleep routine, you can significantly improve your overall health and well-being.

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