Getting your full forty winks

Sleep plays a vital role in good health

There is nothing better than a good night's sleep.

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life.

The way you feel while you're awake depends in part on what happens while youíre sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

Sleep helps your brain work efficiently. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. Studies show that a good night's sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you're sleep-deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behaviour, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity.

Healthy balance

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. When you donít get enough sleep your hunger hormones rise, while your level of leptin (a hormone that makes you feel full) goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when youíre well-rested.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if youíre sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.


Five things you can do to ensure you get adequate sleep include the following:

Go to bed at the same time every night. Set a schedule that is regular and you can follow during the week and on the weekend.

Do things in the hour before your set bedtime to help you relax. Reading can help calm your mind and get your body ready to sleep.

Turn off computers, TVs, phones, and any other screens for at least the final 30 minutes before you hit the sack.

Avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine which can interfere with sleep.

Spend time outside every day if possible and be physically active.