Better sleep can change your life

29 June 2017 by
First published: 8 July 2017

Find out how better sleep can change your life and improve your overall wellbeing.

Everyone knows that sleeping soundly is good for your health. However, for some reason many of us still don’t prioritise gets our zzzs as much as we should. Dr Nicole Tang, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick, carried out research to look into how consistently sleeping well can lead to great mental and physical health benefits – and not just for now, but for your entire life.

Winning the jackpot

Ok, we have a confession to make – having a better night’s sleep won’t win you the lottery (shocker!), but the research undertaken by Dr Tang at the University of Warwick did conclude that the mental and physical health benefits attributed to a good night’s sleep can be compared to the effects of winning a jackpot of around £200,000. By analysing the sleeping patterns of more than 30,500 people living in UK households over a period of four years, Dr Tang found that people who gradually improved their sleeping routines did notice an improvement in their mental and physical wellbeing.

‘We are far from demonstrating a casual relationship, but the current findings suggest that a positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental wellbeing further down the line,’ says Dr Tang. Making an effort to change your sleeping regime, whether that means going to bed earlier, not using technology before bed or cutting out sleep medication, could significantly benefit you in the long run.

Quality not quantity

Have you ever wondered why you’re still feeling groggy and sluggish after eleven hours of sleep? The answer may be in the quality of your sleep, rather than the quantity. It’s obviously still important that you sleep for a sufficient amount of time. However, your environment, your bedtime routine and how deep you’re sleeping can have a far greater bearing on how you feel when you wake up, as opposed to the number of hours you spent asleep.

Paying greater attention to the quality of your sleep is something that you can easily do yourself, without the need for professional help or medication. Dr Tang’s research has prompted her to argue that people should be encouraged not to use sleep medication, as doing so can lead to more difficulties. ‘It is refreshing to see the healing potential of sleep outside of clinical trial settings, as this goes to show that the benefits of better sleep are accessible to everyone and not reserved for those with extremely bad sleep requiring intensive treatments.’ Don’t feel as though you have to resort to medication if you’re struggling with sleep, as the solution to your problems may be simpler than you think!

Daily lifestyle

Better sleep really can change your life, so paying attention to lifestyle factors that can affect your zzzs is key. ‘An important next step is to look at the differences between those who demonstrate a positive and negative change in sleep over time, and identify what lifestyle factors and day-to-day activities are conducive to promoting sleep,’ explains Dr Tang. Making a note of your daily activities could help you figure out why you’re finding it so hard to sleep restfully at night. Doing things like eating heavy meals late at night, using your phone just before bed or not exercising regularly could all be root causes of your sleep problems.