Why a good night’s sleep is so important

Why a good night’s sleep is so important

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, and we have all experienced what it feels like after a bad night. And if I were to ask you why this is important you would probably say it is to recharge our batteries. But what does “recharging our batteries” actually mean?
There are many reasons why we need to sleep, because if we don’t get enough it affects our physical and psychological health as well as performance. Chronic sleep deprivation results in severe psychological issues and even hallucinations.


The sleep cycle.

Sleep is made up of cycles which we go through several times a night. These cycles take about 90 to 110 mins. Each cycle is made up of 5 stages each stage taking about 5 to 15 mins.


Stage 1 – light sleep. This is the first stage we go through, occurring between being awake and falling asleep, called hypnagogic sleep.
Stage 2 – this is the onset of sleep, when we start to disengage from our surroundings.
Stage 3 and 4 – this is the deepest sleep and is when the body repairs and restores itself from the wear and tear of the previous day. It is the most recuperative part of the sleep cycle. Tissue damage is repaired. Hormones such as Growth Hormone are released for growth and muscle development. Levels of cortisol increase to help alertness in the morning. It is during this period of sleep that the immune system is at its most efficient for fighting infection.
REM – rapid eye movement. In the adult this makes up 25% of the sleep cycle and uses as much energy as if we were awake. We are completely paralysed during this stage and this is when we dream.


Quality versus quantity.


Both the quality and the quantity of sleep are important. You must know people who say they sleep for at least 10 hours and still feel exhausted. That is because the quality of sleep is not good. Equally, there will be those people who have 6 hours of good quality sleep and also feel tired. They just aren’t getting enough.

So, it is important to get enough good quality sleep. And you can’t play catch up. You can’t go through the week, getting up early and going to bed late due to work, thinking “it will be ok, I can catch up at the weekend”. It doesn’t work like that!

For our psychological and emotional health the most important stage of sleep is the REM stage. It has been found from research on rats, that if they are deprived of REM sleep they will eventually die. If they are allowed to sleep normally after being deprived of REM sleep the proportion of REM sleep increases to catch up with what they lost, forfeiting the other stages of sleep.

In humans, if we are deprived of REM sleep, maybe because we go to bed too late, or have to get up very early the next day, the next night the proportion of REM sleep is increased to make up for what was lost. But that forfeits deep sleep which is important for our physical health.


Why is REM sleep so important?


It is during REM sleep that the brain lays down templates so that we are able to function. This is like uploading files onto your computer so that certain functions may operate. The unborn foetus is in continual REM sleep. It is constantly loading templates ready for when it is born. When born the baby spends 60% sleep in REM, and this slowly decreases to 25% as adults. Every new experience we come across is uploaded as a template. Parents often moan that teenagers spend so much time in bed, lie in late in the mornings. This is because their days are packed with new experiences plus learning at school. In the very elderly REM sleep reduces even further, this is because they have very few new experiences. REM also restores and updates these templates. If this doesn’t happen, we become unstable and vulnerable.


Why do we dream?

Dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Extensive research by Joe Griffin, author of Dreaming Reality, discovered why it is necessary for our survival to dream. We dream to process and clear emotions that have occurred through the day.


It is a bit like doing the dusting. If we don’t dust the ornaments regularly the dust builds up on them. If we don’t dream regularly our emotions build up in our subconscious. We dream in metaphor so that we don’t get confused between reality and our dreams. If we have had an emotionally packed day we will dream more. If something upsets us early in the day, we have all day to process it and resolve it. But if something upsetting happens late in the day, our subconscious tries to resolve it through dreaming. A reason why not to watch the late evening news before going to bed or to go to bed on an argument….


Dreaming also has another function. We often control our behaviour to fit in with social etiquette. If we went round behaving how we really felt, a bull in a china shop, this would cause us a lot of problems. So, when your boss has a go at you, and you really feel like shouting back, you don’t because it may have dire consequences. But at night you will play out how you really felt like behaving discharging those emotions, and it’s done in metaphor.


But dreaming uses as much energy as being awake.


If we dream a lot we may feel tired in the morning. This effects on our emotions. We may feel frustrated or grumpy, or impatient which then affects what happens during the day. This results in more emotions needing to be resolved the next night. The extra dreaming makes us even more tired. This can lead to a vicious cycle which ultimately affects us emotionally and psychologically. Eventually, this may lead to early morning waking, a symptom of “depression”. The brain decides that all this dreaming is just too tiring, so wakes you early to prevent any more dreaming.


So, in essence…..


The key is a good night’s sleep for emotional and physical wellbeing. Anything that disrupts this, such as ill health, chronic pain, or challenging life events, for any length of time, adversely affect it, perpetuating the situation.



Dr Andrea Haas

Nick Conn / 21st June 2018/ Posted in: Expert Talk

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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
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    • Diazapam (vailium)

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    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
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    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

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    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

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    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

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    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.