The importance of sleep is often highlighted, and we all know that we should be aiming for around 8 hours a night. However due to our busy lives, or perhaps currently the lure of binge-watching Netflix boxsets, this doesn’t always happen. The odd night of poor sleep will probably leave you feeling a little tired and irritated, and your concentration levels may well be lower than normal, but it will have no long-lasting health implications. However, too little sleep on a regular basis can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. When you consider that 1 in 3 adults fail to get 7-9 hours a night, that’s a significant risk for many people.A recent study that was published in the American Heart Association’s Journal, states that individuals who have the healthiest sleep patterns had a 42% lower risk of heart failure. The research involved 400,000 people and was carried out over a 10-year period. Healthy sleep quality was measured using such factors as sleep duration, insomnia, bedtime and whether or not participants unintentionally dozed off during the day. The study also found that those individuals who regularly slept less than 6 hours per night, had a 20% greater risk of suffering a heart attack.In addition, the risk of heart failure was:• 8% lower in early risers
• 12% lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily
• 17% lower in those who did not have frequent insomnia
• 34% lower in those reporting no daytime sleepiness.Sleep gives our bodies time to recover and repair, and its value cannot be underestimated. In addition to the health issues already mentioned, a lack of sleep can play havoc with your weight. Research suggest that you make poor food choices when you are tired, preferring high sugar and higher fat foods which leads to weight gain and a higher BMI.So let’s prioritise our sleep, the benefits are numerous, that TV episode or work email will still be there tomorrow!