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What's keeping you up? Part 1 - Life and love: the lessons and benefits of a good night’s rest

The average person spends around a third of their life sleeping, and for many of us, another third is spent either wishing we got more, or needed less, sleep. So, what makes sleep so important, and how can we give ourselves the best chance of getting as much as we need?
Lifestyle Hints & Tips

In the first of a series entitled ‘What’s keeping you up?’, we’ll be looking at the how a lack of sleep can affect different aspects of your life, and what you can do to help you stay well rested.

With 28 million people in the UK believed to be sleep deprived and 9% of couples deciding to sleep in different rooms – we ask, is sleep deprivation affecting our relationships? Or are our relationships affecting our sleep.

What happens when you sleep?

Some see sleep as an indulgence, a luxury which only the time rich, the idle or the unambitious can afford. But far from being an optional activity – getting enough sleep is real physical necessity.

While you might feel as though you’ve ‘switched off’ as soon as your head hits the pillow, your brain is still ticking away, controlling vital processes in the background. As you sleep, your brain is working hard – restoring your body and creating neural connections that are essential for learning, problem-solving and regulating your hormones.

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What happens when you don't sleep?

If you’re not getting the sleep you need, you’re likely to be irritable, more prone to stress and at risk of making bad decisions. A lot of this comes down to how our body responds to being tired.

Lack of sleep causes your body to fall out of its natural hormonal rhythm. Levels of Serotonin (a calming hormone) may fall, whereas levels of Cortisol (a stress hormone) rise. As a result, you feel irritable and short-tempered.

To make a bad situation worse, studies have shown that prolonged periods of poor sleep can reduce the levels of testosterone in the body – which can put a serious dent in your sex-drive.

What’s keeping you up?

Lifestyle choices are often the culprit for not enjoying good-quality sleep. But for many, it’s the night time behaviour of the person we share a bed with that’s keeping us awake.

A recent study by Silentnight found nearly a third of people struggle to get a good night’s sleep because of their partner. The thrashers, the snorers and the sleep-talkers – it’s a terrible reality that the quality of their night’s sleep could be adversely affecting your own.

Seamless sleeping

If you’re unlucky enough to share a bed with a snorer or chronic sleep-talker, your best bet is to invest in a good pair of earplugs. But if it’s your partner tossing and turning in the night that’s keeping you awake, separate beds aren’t the only solution. With the right kind of mattress and bed, you could enjoy a solid eight hours, without being disturbed.

To sleep well, your body needs to experience both a degree of sink, and of support. If, like the Silentnight mascots (the iconic Hippo and Duck), you and your partner are significantly different in shape and size, finding a mattress that accommodates both of your needs can be tough.

One solution is to opt for an innovative material. Memory foam, famed for its comfort, absorbs pressure and re-distributes weight, so two people of different weights can each enjoy the right amount of support for their body-type. For those who struggle with sleep disrupting ‘roll together’ during the night, mattresses that offer edge-to-edge support, such as Silentnight memory foam mattress are ideal – keeping your bed flat and stable.

Sharing solutions

Some find their precious sleep is rudely interrupted by an arm flung into their face, a rogue heel encroaching on their side of the bed or even a full body rolling heavily into their space. In such circumstances, it’s easy to accuse your partner of hogging the whole bed, but the real problem may be a very obvious one – your bed simply isn’t big enough.

Try as they might, active sleepers can’t control their night time movements, so if two of you share a cramped mattress it’s almost certainly going to affect your quality of sleep.

Making the move from a double to a king-size bed could make all the difference to your long-term sleep quality. For those concerned about space, there’s a solution. Stylish options such as our Silentnight divan beds and space-saving ottoman models come with plenty of inbuilt storage. And for the money conscious, divan sets mean you can purchase a king-size bed with a king-size Silentnight mattress included.

Some ‘sleepologists’ suggest that if your partner is a problem sleeper you should sleep separately. Before you take their advice why not pause for thought? If you still love to wake up next to your loved one, even if they are a restless sleeper or a snorer, then there are solutions out there.

You’re happier, healthier and you even have a better sense of humour when you sleep well. So, it’s worth exploring all of the options to maximise your chances of enjoying a good night’s sleep. You might need to make lifestyle changes, or take a long hard look at what’s keeping you up at night. It could be as simple as a different mattress or a larger bed. Whatever you do, we hope that very soon you can swap your restless evenings for peaceful slumber and start feeling like yourself again.

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You’re happier, healthier and you even have a better sense of humour when you sleep well.

Rebecca Maloy, Beds Buyer
Rebecca Maloy Beds Buyer

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