Health benefits of a good night’s sleep

Sleep has long been the subject of much research but it's only in recent years that we have learned just how complex it is– and that it does so much more for us than just counteracting fatigue.

Good sleep isn't just about the extra energy it gives you to get through the day, a training session at the gym, a parents meeting at school or a day at work – or even giving you enough the energy at the end of the day to stand your ground when the kids try to renegotiate bedtime for the umpteenth time. Sleep is at least as important for our general health. With too little or too little sleep over time, the path to low mood, depression and physical ailments is short. Research tells us that adults should sleep between seven and eight hours a night. Because the difference between sleeping the recommended hours and just one to two hours less each night can be quite significant.

We sleep in cycles of around 90 minutes, where we move between light sleep, deep sleep and what is called REM sleep. As your sleep needs are covered throughout the night, deep sleep periods become shorter and if you wake too early, you lose part of your vital REM sleep.

Losing periods of deep and light sleep can affect your mental health, immune system and memory. This in turn affects learning capacity, information processing and logical thinking. Short night-time awakenings break up sleep cycles and steal important parts of your sleep.

When we are at the end of a REM cycle, we are vulnerable to being woken up. If our mattress doesn't mold well to our body, it may inhibit or stop the blood flow locally in the body, which can be uncomfortable and make us wake up – and perhaps struggle to fall asleep again. A good bed can work wonders for your body, your health – and the following morning.