Sometimes we get an amazing night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and invigorated, others we lie awake for hours awaiting the final drift off. Sleep is vital in order to be an active, healthy human being. But is there more to it than just resting our eyes and lying down all night?

After doing some research, I discovered some quite amazing things about what actually goes on during sleep. Firstly, there are different stages of sleep. The beginning stages are quite obvious – becoming disengaged from surroundings and body temperature dropping – but afterwards is when tissue growth and repair occurs and hormones (including growth) are released. During the final stage of sleep – the REM stage – energy is provided to the brain and body, therefore daytime performance is supported, brain is active and dreams occur, and the body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off.

In addition, your brain uses as much energy whilst sleeping as it does whilst you’re awake – why? Whilst you sleep, your body is flushed of excess rubbish that it doesn’t need. In order to do this, your brain has to make a choice: run the body, or clean it? As well as this, your brain also files through all the ‘stuff’ you have learnt and experienced during the day, it then decides what to keep and what to throw away. This is why revising for an exam before lights out is a great idea.

So, I know sleep is amazing for me and paramount in order to flush my body, retain information and energise my muscles, but how does this relate to me as a teenager and how do I make sure I get enough of it? As teenagers we’re learning all the time, sleeping helps us to retain all that information. So, to help during exams, make sure you get at least eight hours of shut-eye on weeknights. Most of us also grow lots during teenage years, sleeping will help this process along and hopefully speed it up too. Sleeping can also help you to perform both mentally and physically to the best of your ability, so whether you’re out on the sports field or solving algebraic equations, you’ll be helped along the way.

But how can I make sure I get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis? The first answer is: sleeping patterns, you have to get into good ‘going to bed’ habits, which means, going to bed and waking up at similar times every night (keep to these times at weekends if you possibly can too). It’s also good to relax before you go to bed, as this will help the ‘final drift-off’ come much quicker. So have a bath, listen to music, read a book, stretch, do some drawing or colouring, whatever you like, just try not to be on screens, as they are bad for your eyes and don’t help you to get into ‘sleep mode’. In addition, sleeping can help improve your appearance, reducing acne and giving your skin healthy glow. Healthy sleeping environments are also vital for insomnia sufferers, the best environment is cool and dark; try leaving a window propped open and the blind up as the sun will wake you up at the right time. ‘Clock-watchers’ also struggle to get to sleep so keep the clock out of sight to keep worries and stress away. We also lose a lot of fluid during sleep, experts recommend we drink 2 glasses of water when we wake up to hydrate and refresh. If you don’t get enough sleep, your appetite increases so you eat more food during the day, but to help speed-up metabolism make sure you have a protein-rich breakfast ASAP! [See ‘daily start-up’ juice on the blog]

I hope I’ve persuaded you to get some early nights and, if you do, you’ll see the benefits rapidly! Make it a habit and you’ll never doze off in lessons again! Support the blog’s Instagram account @lydsberrypie and follow ‘My Teenage Healthy Living Blog’ for more healthy lifestyle tips and inspiration!

Picture note: this image is from eons ago!


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