Sleeping well is just as important for our health as eating a good diet and being active, but we all struggle to get a good night's sleep at times.
Everyone has periods when they find it difficult to sleep, and when this happens occasionally we don’t need to worry too much. But long-term sleep issues can have an effect on our mental and physical health.
Sleep helps us to:
Recover and prepare
Sleep helps our bodies and our minds to recover from the day and prepare for tomorrow. Too little sleep and those tomorrows will be tougher.
Have a healthy mind
Scientists have found that there’s a strong relationship between getting enough sleep and feeling well and happy. Not getting enough sleep can cause low mood and even make depression and anxiety worse.
Scientists have shown that having a good sleep will help you concentrate during the day and also helps your brain to organise and store the information you have learned during the day.
How much sleep do you need?
The amount of sleep you need changes as you get older. For example, The Sleep Charity recommend 10-11 hours of sleep a night for 7-12 year olds and 8-9 hours of sleep for 12-18 year olds.
But the amount of sleep we need is a very personal thing. Teenagers often find they feel tired and may need more sleep as they go through puberty and into adolescence. This is probably because of all the hormonal and physical changes to both the body and the brain.
They key question to ask yourself is ‘how do I feel during the day?’ If you feel well rested and alert then you’re probably getting enough sleep. Or if you often feel tired, sleepy and lacking in energy it might be that too little sleep is to blame. If that’s the case, it may be worth seeing if the tips below can help you improve your sleep and how you feel during the day.
Worried you're not getting enough sleep?
Everyone has nights here and there where they don’t sleep well, or when they find themselves struggling to drift off. But if you’re regularly not sleeping well (most nights) for a long period of time (more than two weeks), you’re struggling to get up in the morning and feeling tired during the day as a result, then it’s time to talk to someone about it. You should also think about seeing your GP to make sure that everything is OK and to see if they might be able to help put it right.
Our section on Feeling Tired will give you some advice about when tiredness might be a sign that something is wrong.
Top tips for getting more sleep
Find advice on getting more sleep, take a look at this advice from the NHS: