National Sleep Day – What, When, Why, and How To Get Involved?

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National Sleep Day. “Tell me more!” I hear you cry!

What: A day where you get to sleep in.

When: Autumn.

Why: The clocks go back.

How to get involved: Sleep in!

But does this have an impact on your health or the quality of your sleep? Let’s investigate.

What Is National Sleep Day?

National Sleep Day, or National Sleep In Day to be more exact, is that wonderful time of the year where the clocks go back and add an extra hour to the day—or in the best scenario, night.

The vicious rays of the sun (if applicable, come on, it’s the UK after all) fade into the gentle, cool temperament of Autumn breezes and changing leaves. The nights become dark, the mornings don’t brighten until late, and on top of that, you get to sleep in—if only for an hour, once a year.

Britain’s Sleeping Problem

There are 16 million people in the UK who are dealing with sleeplessness frequently. Some of these have insomnia where others just feel they aren’t sleeping enough.

People are trying to take measures to combat their sleep issues, but it’s less than half of the people who deal with these issues.

Two groups of people are taking the “easy” way out of sleeplessness, with 13 percent using sleeping pills and another 13 percent using alcohol

A word of advice: alcohol disrupts your sleep, even though it helps you fall asleep quicker. Avoid alcohol if you’re one of the people dealing with sleep issues.

So, with those tragic sleep issues in mind, it’s no wonder the nation has an animal campaign surrounding those precious 60 extra minutes you get in bed once a year.

When Is National Sleep Day?

This wonderful, long-awaited day occurs on the last Sunday in October every year. It isn’t the same worldwide, the United States tends to engage in Daylight Saving Time a few days to a few weeks after the rest of the world.

But for those of us in the UK, it always takes place around the same time—just not on the same date. In 2021 it occurs on October 31st—and doesn’t everyone need an extra hour in bed the night after Halloween?

Why Do We Have National Sleep Day?

Why make a national campaign out of it? Because we love sleep! Plus, sleep has a big, pile of benefits we’ll discuss after we get into the history of turning the clocks back.

Daylight Saving Time: The Reasoning

Daylight Saving Time or British Summertime hasn’t been around that long, because it’s not scientifically backed or implemented like leap years. It was created to enhance productivity and make the most out of the day. A man called William Willett came up with the idea back in 1907.

In summer the sun rises early and sets late, and Willett noticed people were sleeping through several hours of daylight thanks to the early rise.

He put out pamphlets, petitioning for people to set their clocks back an hour and get up earlier, being more productive, happier and healthier. Finally, in 1916, the UK agreed with his notions and British Summer Time came into play.

The rest of the world soon followed suit and now 70 countries change their clocks twice a year.

Why Celebrate Sleep?

There are lots of reasons to celebrate sleep, mainly because it’s a break from life that lets you relax and reap the rewards of your slumber. However, to take a look at just how much credit we should be giving sleep, let’s look at another sleep-related event: World Sleep Day.

A bit more well-known than National Sleep In Day, World Sleep Day was founded in 2008 and is an annual event that sheds light on the vital sleep-related issues that also go ignored. It’s also made so you can celebrate the underappreciated wonder that is sleeping in general.

It was founded by two MDs and continues to have a long list of MDs and sleep experts from around the world on its committee.

World Sleep Day tackles several key areas, which we’re going to examine now and shed light on why that extra hour of sleep is so vital.

Medicine

Sleep can lower your risk of:

  • Cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • Asthma.
  • Depression.
  • Stroke.
  • High blood pressure.

Adults who sleep fewer than the recommended 7–9 hours per night are more likely to face these health problems in the future, and some are suffering from them now.

Your body needs to work overtime to make up for the time it lost in its reset, regenerative state, so it’s no wonder these issues can creep up and become more prevalent.

Education

Sleep is so common, but so blatantly ignored and misunderstood. It comes as no surprise that a week dedicated to sleep awareness would tackle this issue head-on and attempt to educate the masses on the importance of high-quality sleep.

Not only is there a severe lack of education regarding sleep, but sleep can impact your education in general.

There are several studies that link academics and sleep including ones that reveal lower test scores and poor school performance are linked to insufficient sleep in children.

Social Aspects

The social aspects of a lack of sleep can be draining, and too few people know about them.

If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re at risk of experiencing drowsiness and attention deficits, and you lose the ability to think expansively and creatively which can impair your judgment and decision-making skills in social situations.

Those social impacts are there for young people too, as a lack of sleep can cause mood swings and harm their emotional development.

Lastly, a lack of sleep can cause issues with mental health, with more sleep potentially helping pre-existing mental illness.

Driving

A lack of sleep is bad enough in day-to-day life. What about while driving? It’s a common warning on certain medications that you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery after taking them. Why? Because drowsiness is a side effect.

Drowsiness leads to delayed reactions and you need to be sharp on the road. A study even links drowsy driving to drunk driving.

Sleepy driving is especially prevalent in young people, which isn’t shocking considering the amount of third-shift workers and late-night-party-goers in the younger generation. World Sleep Day is essential if it means educating these drowsy drivers on the dangers of their actions. Even an extra hour of sleep on National Sleep In Day can help combat the issue, if only temporarily.

Drowsy driving kills. Please operate vehicles with caution.

Does Changing the Clocks Impact Your Health?

Sleep is vital! Surely it can only bring good things, can’t it? Well, not exactly. While an extra hour in bed once a year is great (if we ignore how the clocks going forward robs us of an hour), it brings its own set of struggles.

Less Sunlight

As the clocks dive forward, we get an hour less of sunlight every day until the days start getting longer naturally again. Sunlight provides most of our Vitamin D exposure, but with less of it, you may feel fatigued during the day.

Plus, more fatigue comes from your circadian rhythm becoming disrupted. This may lead to a disrupted sleepy/wakeful pattern.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder comes around when the days get shorter and affects around one in 15 people. It usually occurs between September and April.

So far we don’t know what causes the disorder, but it can cause severe depression, as well as influence your melatonin levels which impacts your sleep.

Over Eating

Many people whip out the “hearty” food and large, hot meals once the weather starts to change and the evenings grow dark. This is fine, but please be cautious about overeating.

Cold weather can impact your appetite, leading to overeating and weight gain. Not only can this impact your health but it can also harm your sleep. If you eat close to bedtime, acid reflux can keep you awake.

Making the Most of Sleeping In

Once you know the dangers of the clock changing you can combat them and prepare for a fantastic extra hour in bed. Before you do, here are five tips that will let you make the most of your morning.

1. Quit Your Alarm

You don’t want your arm interrupting this glorious extra hour. Be sure to turn it off if your phone isn’t one that updates the time automatically. There’s nothing worse than anticipating a fantastic lie in, but being forced out of bed early.

2. Turn Off Automatic Electronics

Some radios, televisions, lamps and even some coffee makers can be set to turn on at a specific time every morning. Turn these off or set them an hour later, if you don’t turn the clocks back on them before going to bed. Don’t let them wake you up!

3. Close Your Curtains

Ensure your curtains are shut tightly so no pesky sunlight breaks through and wakes you up. Since you’re sleeping an hour more than usual your body may want to wake up naturally, without an alarm—don’t let it, and don’t let the sunlight outside help. Blackout curtains are great for situations like this, as the video below will reveal.

4. Stay Comfortable

Your bed should be comfortable to allow you to sleep restfully. If you find you wake up uncomfortable every morning or prolonged time in bed leads to pain, then make sure to invest in a new mattress at some point during the year. A mattress protector, at the very least, will add some comfort to a mattress you can’t afford to replace yet.

5. Switch Off On Kid Duty

Kids aren’t quite old enough to understand the glory of an extra hour in bed. If the kids get up early and start wreaking havoc, take turns with your partner regarding wrangling them back to bed, or at least keeping them quiet while one of you sleeps.

Once your partner’s hour is up and you’ve had your extra hour, then your partner can go back to bed and it’s your turn to deal with the little ones.

Final Thoughts

Having a lie-in is a rare treat and we’re lucky the chance comes around once a year naturally, with National Sleep Day. Sleep is vital as demonstrated earlier, so make the most of this day when it lasts. Remember to:

  • Turn off all alarms and electronics that come on at a certain time.
  • Keep the curtains closed and the lights off.
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed.
  • Keep the kid-induced noise level to a minimum.

If you have any comments or queries, feel free to leave them down below.

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