Why Sleep is Important
Sleep is something that we all need but that we regularly don’t get enough of. 62% of adults around the world say they don't sleep as well as they'd like (Philips Global Sleep Survey, 2019) and 67% of adults experience sleep disturbances at least once every night (Philips Global Sleep Survey, 2019). That’s a lot of people suffering with their sleep!
Healthy sleep patterns seem to be rarer to find that disturbed sleep so we could all benefit from taking steps to improve the length and quality of sleep we get.
Healthy Sleep patterns usually include:
Four to six sleep cycles. A sleep cycle is when the brain moves through the different stages of sleep, which usually last about 90 minutes each.
20-25% of total sleep is REM sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a stage of sleep associated with dreaming and memory consolidation. During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly behind your closed eyes, your heart rate speeds up, and your breathing becomes irregular.
Approximately two hours per night dreaming
Body temperature during sleep drops by one to two degrees Fahrenheit
Metabolism drops by around 15%6 during non-REM sleep.
A key driver of the body’s natural sleeping and waking cycles is known as the circadian rhythm, which are 24-hour cycles that act as our bodies internal clock. It runs in the background and carries out essential functions and processes. This internal clock is managed by our brains, specifically the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is made up of around 20,000 neurons.
When functioning properly, our circadian rhythm enables us to get restful sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, we can experience sleeping problems. Sleep plays an important role in our physical health. It is essential to every process in the body and touches all aspects of health and our functioning the next day. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. It also impacts our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism.
Research is also revealing that circadian rhythms play an integral role in aspects of mental health as well as physical:
40% of people with insomnia are believed to also be affected by a mental health disorder.
Around 75% of adults with depression suffer from insomnia.
More than 90% of people with PTSD related to military combat have been found to have symptoms of insomnia.
Disturbed sleep can either be caused by a mental health problem, worsened by it or even be a side effect of taking medication. Addressing sleep and sleep disorders as part of mental health treatment is very important, and is often overlooked. If you’re struggling with your sleep, check out our sleep tip blogs but if it’s becoming unmanageable then seek a professional’s advice.