tired? would love a quick lie down or nap?
If this thought is all to appealing, maybe you are among the hundreds of people who are not getting enough sleep.
Unfortunately we allow our 24hr world to encroach on our rest and slumber far too often. With the invention of the electric light, and now the TV, computer, and late night texting, our natural rhythms of resting as the sun sets, have been greatly disturbed.
Sleep is as important as a healthy diet, regular exercise and positive thoughts in keeping us functioning at our optimum. In a nutshell the correct amount of regular sleep helps to keep us sickness and injury free. A third of your life should be spent in slumber! It is during our times of sleep when our body undertakes most of the repair and growth that we need to face the next day with vitality. When this is distrupted over a long time it can lead to a vast array of problems from depression to diabetes, memory loss, increase blood pressure, and even breast cancer ( linked to high oestrogen and low melatonin levels).
In the short term sleep deprivation can also lead us to crave high calorie food fixes, and sowe make very poor food choices. This, when accompanied with 'feeling too tired to get to the gym' often leads to weight gain. In the longer term, sleep deprivatin is linked to changes in carbohydrate storage and hormone secretion. (increase in cortisol- stress hormone, ghrelin- appetite promoting, decrease in leptin- feeling satiated)
Our sleep/ wake cycles are linked to the production of melatonin which is controlled by the supra-chiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. Melatonin is a sleep hormone and is only produced when it is dark, “the vampire of hormones”. When day light filters onto our skin, melatonin release is delayed and cortisol levels increase as does body temperature and we get ready for waking and our day ahead. Chronic release of the stress hormone cortisol is linked to weight gain, especially around the waist.
So lets all get some decent 'shut eye'………..
tips to sleep better:-
- 'sleep in a bat cave' – have your room as dark as possible. You shouldn't be able to see across the room. Light on the skin affects the secretion of melatonin which regulates our wake sleep cycle.
- Try to wake and sleep with the sun. Sleep at 10.30 and wake at same time each day. Routine is essential in setting the body clock. Even after a late night try to wake at the same time again. Invest in a dawn simulator light to assist with a peaceful wake up. We should be aiming for 6-8 hours/ night.
- Avoid bright lights at least 1 hour before bedtime. That means no ipad, computer, TV and texting. The artificial light stimulates cortisol and keeps us in our wake cycle.
- Avoid stimulants after 3pm. Caffeine has a half life of 6hrs. Avoid alcohol close to bed time also as it streses the body and stimulates cortisol release.
- Avoid exercise close to bed time due to the natural increase in cortisol levels as a result of working out. Aim to finish at least 4hrs before bed so your core body temp can drop again.
- Watch your sugar intake, especially at dinner time, as this stimulates and causes stress to the body. It is often a sugar crash that wakes us in the night…….and then we need the toilet.
- Have electromagnetic devices at least 2m from your head. This includes digital clocks/ phone and plugs. Digital clocks also emit enough light to mess with your melatomin levels. Choose a clock with a dimmer or a dawn simulator with a sunset function.
- Relaxation techniques can help us nod off. If staring at the ceiling , or clock watching, try this easy meditation. As you breathe simplly follow your breath with this mantra….”breathe in, breathe out”
- Napping in the day can be productive, but try to keep it about 20 mins. For a complete sleep cycle we can aim for 90 mins. This doesn't replace a proper nights sleep however!
I hope you have found these tips useful and look forward to getting a great nights rest!