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Sleep well


‘Healthy You’ promote the importance of sleep, with sleep allowing you to relax, which improves mental and emotional wellbeing.

Sleep also gives you energy and boosts your immune system, helping your body recover from illnesses.

While you sleep your body builds and repairs itself by making new tissue. Sleep helps your brain to recover and revive itself, helping it to make sense of the day, storing your memories and creating new ideas.

Do you know how much sleep you should be having each night? Adults aged 18-65 need between 7-9 hours a night. Adults over 65 need between 7-9 hours a night (click image to view larger). If you do not have the recommended amount of sleep you may feel the effects which can effect your wellbeing and everyday life. Find tips, more images and support from the sleep council for those that struggle to get to sleep.




Want to learn more about dealing with sleeping problems from an expert? Dr Chris Williams explains what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep in a podcast available on the NHS Choices website, click here to view.




What happens if I don’t sleep?

Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep.

An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health.

After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.

If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes (source: NHS Choices)

To find out more about the important function of sleep watch this informative TED talk by Russell Foster about sleep:

7 ways sleep can boost your health:

1. Sleep boosts immunity

If you seem to catch every cold and flu that’s going around, your bedtime could be to blame. Prolonged lack of sleep can disrupt your immune system, so you’re less able to fend off bugs.

2. Sleep can slim you

Sleeping less may mean you put on weight! Studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day tend to gain more weight and have a higher risk of becoming obese than those who get seven hours of slumber.

It’s believed to be because sleep-deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone).

3. Sleep boosts mental wellbeing

Given that a single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day, it’s not surprising that chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than six hours a night.

4. Sleep prevents diabetes

Studies have suggested that people who usually sleep less than five hours a night have an increased risk of having or developing diabetes.

It seems that missing out on deep sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes glucose – the high-energy carbohydrate that cells use for fuel.

5. Sleep increases sex drive

Men and women who don’t get enough quality sleep have lower libidos and less of an interest in sex, research shows.

Men who suffer from sleep apnoea – a disorder in which breathing difficulties lead to interrupted sleep – also tend to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.

6. Sleep wards off heart disease

Long-standing sleep deprivation seems to be associated with increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation, which may put extra strain on your heart.

7. Sleep increases fertility

Difficulty conceiving a baby has been claimed as one of the effects of sleep deprivation, in both men and women. Apparently, regular sleep disruptions can cause trouble conceiving by reducing the secretion of reproductive hormones.

Source: NHS Choices see more by clicking here.

How to improve sleep:

  • You can help keep your biological clock tuned in to your sleep with anchor sleep. Aim to have at least four hours sleep at the same time every night/morning (e.g. 3-7am). This seems to help keep your sleep clock regular.
  • Use the weekend or days off to get in some extra “recovery” sleep.
  • Make sure the sleeping environment is a comfortable bed in a dark, well-ventilated room and aim to cut out as much extraneous noise as possible.
  • Avoid stimulants (eg caffeine), large meals or vigorous exercise for at least 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  • If you have trouble getting to sleep; lavender, passion flower, hops, orange blossom, Scot’s pine, camomile and peppermint all claim to promote sleep.

Find tips, more images and support from the sleep council.

How to catch up on lost sleep

NHS Choices suggested to compensate for lost sleep by sleeping for longer when you can.

Try to add on an extra hour or two of sleep on a  night before a day off of work is a good time to start. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clocks allowed!).

Expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.

It is important to not rely on caffeine or energy drinks as a short-term pick-me-up. They may boost your energy and concentration temporarily, but can disrupt your sleep patterns even further in the long term.

Source: NHS Choices.


Good sleep hygiene
As part of our commitment to supporting our staff, we would like to share a recorded webinar aimed at helping you stay well this winter. Recorded webinar held on January 8th 2024 by Rachel Ewan, our Occupational Health Mental Health and Wellbeing Specialist Nurse.

Rachel hosted a 30-minute online Webinar focusing on sleep and promoting good sleep hygiene. The session delved into:

  • Why sleep is crucial and the benefits of a good night’s sleep
  • Understanding the concept of sleep hygiene
  • Exploring the impact of sleep on mental health
  • Highlighting available resources and support channels

Good Sleep sights will contribute to fostering a healthier and more resilient staff community. Feel free to access the Link NHS staff only : Sleep  


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