Getting enough of the good stuff? Sleep mattersJanuary 15, 2019 2:44 pm
Aaawwhhh…yawn ! What is it that we need in mid January the most? Maybe a few nights of good sleep or just some better sleep habits. We can’t survive without it so why can it be so elusive? And are there some simple things we can do to get more of it?
Sleep deprivation or bad quality sleep can affect us any time of year and its perils are on the increase no thanks to the ever increasing 24 hour culture, changing work patterns and the ubiquitous screen clutched in palm all too frequently from dawn till dusk.
We need to make sure we are getting the most we can from our sleep, for sleep alone is one of the biggest health elixirs out there. No amount of vitamin pills, green juices or downward facing dogs can make up for the nourishing whole mind and body relaxation and detoxification we get from good sleep.
So from needing our dream time to doing our mental housekeeping (our night-time visions really are a form of biological housekeeping, without which we are way more prone to a whole host of diseases) and getting enough joined up zzz’s to make us simply feel human, here is our short guide to positive habits to aid sleep. You can’t buy it, bottle it or give it away but you know when you are getting good sleep the whole world can seem a different place.
- We THRIVE the more we are in sync with the circadian rhythm, so getting in sync and setting the habit of a regular bedtime and wake up time really helps. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, this will help set your body’s internal clock to optimise the quality of your sleep. Set a bed time when you normally feel tired to reduce tossing and turning. When we’re getting enough sleep we should wake up naturally without an alarm, if an alarm is needed we may need an earlier bedtime.
- LIGHT. Our exposure to light is essential and linked to the production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. The brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark and less when it’s light. Simply, the more melatonin production, the more sleepy we are (those dark winter days do it!) more light, less melatonin, more alert. Many aspects of modern culture rob us of our connection to these rhythms often to dire effect.
So…DO Make sure you get up and out in the light. Light on the face will help wake up the whole body. Spend time outside and let as much natural light into your workplace and home as possible.
AVOID bright screens before bed, ideally for at least 1-2 hrs as the blue light emitted from phones, iPads and back-lit devices is especially disruptive. If it is unavoidable turn the brightness down.
AVOID late night stimulation television and opt for a paperback or some music instead.
- DARK AND COLD. There is something to be said for caves!! When it’s time for sleep make sure the room is dark, invest in blackout curtains and turn off the glow from any electronics, ideally get them out of the bedroom. Make the place you sleep a tranquil and calming space, loose the clutter, get yourself some nice bed linen. You may work like a dog all day but let yourself sleep like a queen at night, and turn the radiator down or off, a cooler room is a friend of good sleep.
- EXERCISE. It is a fact that exercise helps regulates sleep, promotes energy and wakefulness in the day and sleepiness at night, that’s want we want. The more exercise the better but even walking for 10 minutes a day can improve sleep quality.
- DRINK. Make sure you are getting enough hydration, drink lots of water and herbal teas, cut back on alcohol as this has a detrimental effect on good quality sleep.
- EAT. Optimise your nutrition with vegetables, fruits and whole foods, you’ll feel better all round.
Why not make bedtime look like this?
Some gentle yoga or meditation…a warm bath…herbal tea and book in bed…zzzz
Simple, the best things usually are. Shift gear for 2019 and sink in deep to a good quantity of quality sleep.