When was the last time that you truly had a good night’s sleep?

In today’s fast-paced world, marked by all-round competitive pressures, a struggle to maintain work-life balance, and consequently stress, many people skip sleep, or cannot sleep comfortably.

Lack of proper sleep has severe ill-effects on the body.

A good night’s sleep not only keeps the body refreshed and rejuvenated to perform at peak potential, but also safeguards against a host of ailments.

Ailments Lack of comfortable sleep depletes energy, and increased tension. The Nurses’ Health Study, powered by Harvard, reveals that insufficient or irregular sleep increases the risk for breast and colon cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases. Many other studies similarly attribute lack of proper sleep as among the major causes for heart diseases, strokes, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Loss of Cognitive Ability Lack of comfortable sleep retards the human cognitive processes. It impairs key human functions, such as alertness, attention, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving abilities. It is the various “sleep cycles” that consolidate the memories in the mind, and allow the body to perform such functions well. The retention of memory depends largely on “sharp wave ripples,” which occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep. Lack of comfortable sleep greatly disrupts this cycle.

Hormone Changes Lack of proper sleep also affects metabolism, alters hormones, and enhances the effects of ageing. It is during deep sleep, or the “slow-wave sleep” cycle, that the human body releases the growth hormone, to patch up the wear-and-tear suffered by the skin, during the day. Lack of comfortable sleep greatly reduces the “deep sleep” phase and inhibits this activity.

Conversely, uncomfortable or improper sleep, prompts the body to release cortisol, a stress hormone. Excess of cortisol breaks down skin collagen. Collagen keeps skin elastic and smooth.

Improper sleep, or sleep-loss, also causes the body to release too little of the growth hormones, thereby retarding the growth of muscle mass, thickening of the skin, and strengthening of the bones.

Back Pain One of the biggest, and immediate symptoms of lack of comfortable sleep is back pain, the impact that a poor quality bed and mattress can have on a person’s wellbeing is extreme. The importance of this is best demonstrated by the need for individuals filing spinal injury claims to prove that they have not exacerbated their condition by sleeping on low quality mattresses.

The major reasons for back pain, resultant from uncomfortable sleep are:

  • Improperly cushioned mattresses, without the correct firmness, and which does not support the spine properly.
  • Pillows not properly fitted to the sleeping position, or which are not flat enough, to support the spine, in its natural alignment. A good pillow supports the back, and the neck, without tipping the head, to any one side.
  • Improper sleeping positions. Sleeping on the stomach, for instance, forces the spine into a slightly unnatural position. Sleeping on the side, without a supporting pillow on the knees, may stretch the lower back, and also cause back aches.
  • Disturbed sleep, because of improper mattresses or pillows, has been a focal point of many spinal injury claims, over the years.

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