Hit the pillow, not the gym, to get a real health boost

The decline in people getting a good night’s rest could be coming to an end as sleep is set to become the latest health fad.

Exercise and a diet rich in fruit and vegetables have been the main areas of focus to achieve a healthy lifestyle, but now sleep has become a “major talking point”, researchers say.

Scientists have long highlighted the benefits of a full nights’ sleep, usually recommending eight hours to help lower the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and obesity as well as poor mental health.

A report published last year found British people spend more time awake than they did five years ago, but the Sleep Council has found hope in recent trends.

“Over the past couple of years, sleep has become a major talking point. You can eat well and exercise but if you don’t sleep well, the other two don’t work as well,” a spokesman for the an advisory body said.

The Sleep Council study, which surveyed 5,000 people, found a third slept for fewer than six hours a night with seemingly increased restlessness put down to an inability to switch off.

When asked what most affected their lack of sleep, energy levels, mood, health, work performance and personal relationships were identified as factors.

Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist at the University of California in Berkeley, and author of the book “Why We Sleep”, said adults over the age of 45 are 200% more likely to have a heart attack if they slept fewer than six hours a night.

He also found that adults who slept for seven and eight hours, were found to have significantly lower blood pressure than those who slept less. – The Sunday Telegraph