We all know the effects of a bad night’s sleep. We wake up feeling stiff and uncomfortable, grumpy and irritable, tired and lethargic.
We’re short-tempered with our partner and snap at our kids. We fall victim to road rage or impatience in the coffee queue. And in work, we can’t seem to summon the energy to achieve anything – forget finishing that presentation in time, we can barely remember our log-in details! We make unhealthy lunch choices, lacking the motivation to stick to whatever diet we’re supposed to be on.
We can’t be bothered to exercise after work so we go on home; weary, wound up and probably too anxious to sleep soundly.
What happens with Lack of Sleep?
Just one night of bad sleep can negatively affect the following:
- your mood
- and spiritual health. Ouch.
And these days lack of sleep isn’t that foreign a concept. They happen to us all, sometimes after a big night out with friends or sometimes when we’re working into the wee hours. And it’s fine if lacking a good night sleep happens from time to time. Those days are just a write-off, that’s all.
But what if one day like this turns into one… then two… then three and more? Suddenly you haven’t slept properly for a week, your focus and concentration are shot and well, you’re probably not the nicest person to be around!
You’re not as young as you used to be.
Sorry, but it’s true. The thing is, you can’t expect to function without a decent night’s sleep like say, you might’ve done in your twenties.
Just like having 3 beers is going to affect your head more the next day than when you were younger, so too will a lack of sleep. Sigh.
The thing is, as we near 40 or 50, our sleeping habits change. We tend to feel sleepier early in the evening and wake earlier in the morning, too.
But even though our patterns of sleep might change, how much sleep we need doesn’t. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults still need 7-9 hours of sleep every night; this doesn’t change until the age of 65, when an hour less is acceptable.
So get to bed earlier…
Chances are, if you’re over 40, you’re not getting as much sleep as you should. Maybe it’s because you still keep the same bedtime as you did 10 years ago. So even though you’re waking at 6am, you’re still going to bed at midnight; and that just ain’t gonna cut it!
If you find yourself waking early, respect the fact that you’re getting a little older. And that you need more sleep. Get to bed at 10pm, feel more rested when you wake up and you’ll notice the rest of the day gets that much easier.
How Lack of Sleep affects Focus and Concentration?
Sleep affects a lot of things going on in our brain. For instance, better sleep improves your memory (as the brain makes more neural connections while we sleep, recognising patterns and storing them in a process called consolidation).
Getting regular sleep also helps us to be more focused; simply because a more rested mind will be less prone to distractions, looking to external forces to give it a jolt of wakefulness. Whether it’s caffeine, sugar or a break to check your Facebook profile, too much of these things aren’t good for your body or mind. So nip the need for them in the bud and get more sleep!
In terms of concentration, sleep helps us do better at not just one, but a multitude of tasks. Because while an under-slept person can perhaps fulfill the same basic tasks as a rested person, throw in an obstacle or ask them to multi-task and they can’t cope. It’s too much for their frazzled brain to handle.
When we’re well-rested though, everything is different. We can respond to emails, finish that presentation, engage in some witty office repartee and clear our to-do list all before lunchtime. Imagine!
The Benefits of Sleep extend to Outside the Office, too
Better memories mean that we don’t forget our anniversary. Or our friend’s birthday. Or the fact that we said we’d host Christmas dinner this year. The result? A more thoughtful you and improved relationships.
To strangers, you’ll likely be more tolerant and patient, rather than that snappy grump who didn’t get enough sleep last night. If someone asks you a favour, you’ll be able to do so with energy and enthusiasm, more of your younger self than you’ve been in a long time.
Preventing lack of sleep isn’t rocket science. All you need to do is respect your sleeping times, invest in a comfortable mattress [like these ones], avoid too much screen time before bedtime and cut down on the caffeine if possible. There are lots more ways to improve your sleep out there but that’s a good way to start!
Ageing isn’t easy
But it can be a lot easier if you approach it with a fresh, well-rested attitude. So start enjoying better sleep on a regular basis. Watch how it improves your focus and concentration, but also your health in body and mind.