Give Sleep Some Attention

Sleep is like plugging your body into its own built-in charger. It replenishes your depleted energy levels and gives you enough charge or energy to do what you need to do in your waking hours.

Though, much like a cell phone that hasn’t fully recharged and cuts off in mid-call, if you don’t sleep enough, you can run out of energy way too soon. How much you sleep affects every action you perform that requires energy and a lack thereof can even affect your outward appearance. So, your nightly session on “charge” shouldn’t be taken lightly and since we spend roughly a third of our lives doing it, why not try to get the best out of it? 1 2 3

The importance of sleep

We all need to make sure we get the right amount of sleep, and enough good quality sleep. There is no set amount of sleep that is appropriate for everyone; some people need more sleep than others. So, it’s not just about how much you sleep, it’s also about how well you sleep. Sleep is a necessity to maintain your physical and mental health as it is necessary for the brain to recover and regenerate. During sleep the brain processes information and strengthens memory – that is why it is better to get a good night’s sleep before an exam or an important day at work. 1 2 3

Melatonin – The Sleep Hormone

The role of melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone synthesised and secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and has been linked scientifically to regulating sleep which in turn boosts the immune system and helps maintain a better mood and quality of life. 1 2 5 6

Our bodies have a built-in clock – or circadian rhythm – that regulates our sleep cycles, and this controls how much melatonin your body secretes. Under normal circumstances, melatonin levels go up in the mid- to late evening and stay up most of the night. They then drop again in the early morning. 1 2 5

As we get older, our natural melatonin levels slowly decrease, which is why a supplement may sometimes be needed to get a good night’s rest – especially if you are an older adult suffering from insomnia. See Ageing and Sleep for more. 1 6