We all know what how we feel after a bad night’s sleep, but sleep problems can affect more than just our general mood. Lack of sleep can affect our emotional health, our physical health and our mental health. So why is sleep so important?
Sleep acts as a potent antioxidant, allowing the enzyme super‐oxide dismutase (SOD) to work in a way that it cannot whilst we are awake. When we sleep, the immune system is supported and the body heals and repairs itself. Mentally, memories are laid down and learning is established. Adults should be getting around 7‐8 hours per night and too much sleep can be as detrimental as not enough.
Poor sleep could be due of a multitude of reasons, ranging from emotional stress (e.g. worry about work) to biochemical reasons, so it is important to identify the contributing factors. Many researchers believe that lack of sleep can significantly impair learning, reduce the consolidation of new information and weaken cognitive function. It can also impact on the cardiovascular system via the mechanism of oxidative stress and affect metabolism leading to excess weight gain.