Ready? Set? Snooze!

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  Posted by: The Probe      6th March 2021

For many of us, nothing compares to the feeling of falling into a comfy bed after a hard day’s work. Fortunately, National Bed Month is the perfect excuse to spend more time under the covers. That’s right – leading national body for sleep health, The Sleep Council, dedicates March to reminding us how valuable the right bed is in helping us kip. Considering you are likely to spend 33 years of your life in bed, the need for a warm and comfortable place to rest one’s weary head should never be underestimated.[1] This is particularly important given the impact poor sleep can have on overall health and wellbeing.

The science of sleep

We each have an internal “body clock” that regulates our sleep pattern, controlling when we feel tired and ready for bed, or refreshed and alert. This clock operates on a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. After waking up from sleep in the morning, you will become increasingly tired throughout the day, with these feelings typically peaking in the evening leading up to bedtime. It is thought that this sleep drive – otherwise known as sleep-wake homeostasis – is linked to adenosine. This organic compound is produced in the brain and increases over the course of the day as you tire, before your body then breaks this down during sleep.

Light can also influence the circadian rhythm. The hypothalamus part of the brain contains a cluster of cells called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which processes brain signals when the eyes are exposed to natural or artificial light, helping the body determine whether it is day or night. As natural light disappears in the evening, the body will release melatonin – a hormone that induces drowsiness to prepare you for sleep. When the sun rises the following morning, the body will then release the hormone, cortisol, to promote energy and alertness. When properly aligned, your circadian rhythm can ensure consistent and restorative sleep.[2] 

Why do we need sleep?

Sleep is essential for the body and mind to rest and recharge, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert when you wake up, but it also serves a broader function in helping the body remain healthy and stave off illness. The right amount of sleep largely depends on your age – most adults typically require 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep, whilst children and adolescents need more.[3] Poor sleep can negatively impact brain function, leaving you vulnerable to attention lapses, reduced cognition, delayed reactions and mood shifts. However, a continuous lack of sleep can also lead to more serious health problems.

In fact, consistently poor sleep has been linked to certain diseases and medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health (e.g. depression and anxiety), and early death. Sleep deprivation is even claimed to make conceiving a baby difficult, as it may reduce the secretion of reproductive hormones.[4] Furthermore, evidence suggests that a lack of sleep can increase the risk of periodontal disease.[5] Disorders that can disrupt sleep such as obstructive sleep apnoea (a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, thereby interrupting normal breathing) can also cause dry mouth, which can lead to a higher likelihood of developing dental caries.[6] 

Sleep hygiene

The unfortunate reality is that our modern lifestyles have made it more difficult to sleep properly. For instance, many people work longer hours than they did in the past, meaning they are devoting less time to sleep. Our exposure to artificial light has also increased, which can throw the circadian rhythm off balance. In particular, blue light emitted from our smartphones, computers and the like can prevent the body from producing melatonin, making it harder to sleep.[7] Even the comfort of our own homes can be problematic for sleep patterns – central heating and air conditioning systems can dislocate us from the natural drops and rises in temperature during the day, which signal to our bodies when it is time to sleep.[8], [9]

Thankfully, there are some simple lifestyle and sleep habits we can follow to help us snooze better. For example, abstain from consuming coffee, alcohol and large meals leading up to bedtime, and exercise during the day to help you wind down in the evening. To further promote healthy sleep, it is important to maintain comfortable temperature settings in the bedroom and you may consider implementing a “screen ban” before bedtime too.

It is also vital to establish a realistic bedtime and stick to it every night, even on the weekends. In this regard, having a sound oral care routine can help in better preparing the mind and body for sleep. Dental professionals can support patients by recommending innovative solutions that are optimised to make oral hygiene as simple as possible, including ‘Be you’ toothpastes, CPS interdental brushes and the Hydrosonic Easy electric toothbrush from Curaprox.

Sleeping is as important to our quality of life as exercising regularly and maintaining a nutritious diet. It is essential that we all make time to rest and recharge for the benefit of our long-term health and wellbeing. Remember, there’s no better cure for a tiring day than a good night’s sleep.

 

For more information please call 01480 862084, email info@curaprox.co.uk or visit www.curaprox.co.uk

 

Author Dawn Woodward National Sales manager Curaprox UK

 

[1] Curtis. G. (2017) Your Life In Numbers. Dreams. Available at: https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic/. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].

[2] Suni, E. (2020) Why Do We Need Sleep? SleepFoundation.org. Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].

[3] Suni, E. (2020) How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? SleepFoundation.org. Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need#:~:text=National%20Sleep%20Foundation%20guidelines1,to%208%20hours%20per%20night. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].

[4] NHS. (2018) Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].

[5] Grover, V., Malhotra, R. and Kaur, H. (2015) Exploring association between sleep deprivation and chronic periodontitis: A pilot study. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 19(3): 304–307. DOI: 4103/0972-124X.154173.

[6] Tamasas, B., Nelson, T. and Chen, M. (2019) Oral Health and Oral Health-Related Quality of Life in Children With Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 15(3): 445–452. DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.7672.

[7] Blume, C., Garbazza, C. and Spitschan, M. (2019) Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie (Berl). 23(3): 147–156. DOI: 10.1007/s11818-019-00215-x.

[8] The Sleep Charity. (2020) Sleep Environment. Available at: https://thesleepcharity.org.uk/information-support/adults/sleep-environment/. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].

[9] BBC. (Unknown) The worrying effects of working more and sleeping less. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170707-the-worrying-effects-of-working-more-and-sleeping-less. [Last accessed: 09.12.20].


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