Why sleep gives your health the most bang for its buck – Dr Jonathan Bloomfield

Dr Johnathan Bloomfield

As the saying goes, “Money makes the world go round”. But when it comes down to looking after our health and wellbeing is there anything that comes close to sleep?

In my last blog post, I talked a little bit about how the national sleep crisis has deepened as a result of the commercial pressures on the population. I discussed how missing out on sleep may be lowering productivity and making the workplace an altogether less enjoyable place to be.

But what about the things that we like to spend cash on to make ourselves feel better? Are they really doing much to improve or protect our health and wellbeing?

Caffeine addiction

Millions of people in the UK enjoy a good brew every day. Coffee, in particular, has exploded in popularity over the last decade as more and more of us rely on a caffeine hit each day to wake us up and keep us ticking along until the end of the working day.

According to market research in 2017 the number of coffee outlets has grown by 130% since 2006 and the average Brit is spending more than £2,100 per year on coffee (£5.75 per day). To put that in some context, that’s 8% of the average salary of an individual. The self-employed typically spend even more at a sizeable £2,600 per year. Often this is seen as a by-product of working remotely and holding meetings in coffee houses . . . alternatively known as “coffices”.

Interestingly, there is a strong association between daily intake of caffeine, reduced sleep quality and increased daytime sleepiness – precisely the opposite of what many people drink coffee to achieve. This effect can, of course, depend on the timing of the consumption but it is apparent that simply getting a good night’s sleep can do more for energy levels across the course of the day than drinking coffee.

Beauty products or beauty sleep

According to a 2017 survey by Totallymoney.com, the average individual in the UK is spending almost £4,500 (£12.32 per day) on their looks each year. The highest average spends was found to be in Leeds (£7,000) and London (£6,300), while the lowest was Aberdeen (£2,710).

Such significant sums of money are fascinating when we put it into the context of a study carried out by researchers in Stockholm in 2017. Pictures of a group of young, healthy adults were taken (make-up free) before and after 2 nights of sleep restriction. These pictures were then shown to strangers who were asked to judge them on their attractiveness, health and trustworthiness. Unsurprisingly, the strangers rated the sleep-deprived group lower on all 3 counts.

This research leads us to think that simply maintaining a healthy sleep pattern can help people to look their best and even avoid the need for expensive make-up and other beauty products.

Pain relief

Latest estimates suggest that low back pain currently costs a total of £12.3 billion to the UK economy. This can be broken down into £1.6 billion for direct healthcare resources, £1.6 billion related to informal care and £9.1 billion through lost productivity (indirect costs). In other words, we’re not taking brilliant care of ourselves.

Pain is much more likely to come about if we adopt poor postures, overload the spine or stay in fixed positions for too long on a regular basis. Failing to safeguard our spinal health at work and through the night can result in costly treatments from physiotherapists or chiropractors, as well as pain relief and rehabilitation products.

Alternatively, many people resort to pain medication – either privately or through prescriptions from the NHS. When we consider that £70 million was spent by the NHS on paracetamol prescriptions alone, it is clear that the cost of pain relief is not insignificant.

Placing value in sleep

In 2016, the Bed Federation estimated that consumers paid £450, on average, for a mattress and that they typically changed mattress once every 8 years. That equates to roughly 15p a night or £1.07 a week.

Weighed up against the cost of daily life – coffees, food, entertainment, beauty products etc – and it is clear that we as a society do not place significant value on our sleep. Yet the value for money that good sleep provides is unquestionable.

At Mammoth, we are acutely aware of the value in sleep and why we believe that the work we do in developing new, innovative and effective sleep technologies is so crucial to the health and wellbeing of our customers.

Let’s first recognise that you and your mattress are going to spend a lot of time in bed together. Doing the sums, if you sleep for 7 hours a night on a mattress for the recommended 8-year lifespan, your body is going to be in contact with it for more than 20,000 hours .  . . that’s 2.3 years?

No other object, apart from maybe certain items of jewellery like a wedding ring, will come into such close contact with your body for that length of time.

Therefore, it should be a really important purchase and one that we should all perhaps be thinking a little differently about. Most of us will spend many more hours a week in bed than we will on the sofa or in our cars. But how often are snap decisions made when it comes to choosing a mattress?

Let’s do some more sums:

Sleeping on a mattress worth £1,000 for 8 years (or 2,920 nights) works out at 34p per night – the price of an apple.

This amount, of course, can be halved if your sharing a bed with your partner, so that’s down to 17p each per night – the price of a banana to provide your body with essential health benefits.

This works out at a total of £125 per year and when we compare that to our annual spends on coffee, pain relief and beauty products, we could soon realise that getting a little bit more quality sleep may be a much more sensible route to make our lives that little bit more productive and profitable.

Ready to upgrade your sleep? Explore the Mammoth range now.