Sleep is essential to good health and wellbeing, yet so many people I meet are struggling to get a good night’s sleep. So I thought I would re-visit what I knowabout sleep to see what I can share with you.
I have had periods of poor sleep and insomnia but over time I have worked out what suits my body and it’s not something I really have a problem with anymore. Sure I have periods of time where I am extremely busy and have things going around and around in my mind, but I always come back to my top tips and the issue is soon resolved
So let’s start by looking at sleep!
A report by The Sleep Council found that:
- One in three people suffer with poor quality sleep on a regular basis
- We are only averaging 6.5 hours of sleep a night – 8 hours is recommended
- Sleep quality decreases as we get older
- Stress and worry is the biggest cause of sleep problems
- Just one in ten people have sought help about sleeping poorly, yet three times this number have taken medication in attempt to relieve the problem
- 42% of those on sleeping pills have had sleep problems for over a decade, suggesting that sleeping pills are not effective in solving long term sleep problems
- Poor sleepers are more likely to experience feelings of helplessness, loneliness, and low mood
Should you be worried? Well poor quality sleep…
- Impairs judgement which can lead to a greater likelihood of accidents
- Can lead to irrational emotional responses
- Impairs cognitive ability – the ability to learn, concentrate, focus, make decisions, problem solve. Sleep also helps to consolidate memories – if you don’t sleep you won’t remember what you have learned.
- Can increase your risk of chronic disease including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes
- Has been shown to stimulate the appetite, and lead to cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods
- Decreases libido
- Can lead to anxiety and depression
- Ages your skin
So how do we get a better night’s sleep?
Here are my top 7 tips:
- Create the right environment
Ideally your bedroom should be quiet, dark and a few degrees cooler than the rest of your house. Keep your room clear of clutter, it should be a welcoming place of retreat.
- Have a night time routine
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day as this reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Create habits that send signals to your brain that you are preparing for sleep. This might be a warm bath with calming essential oils, drinking chamomile tea, writing a gratitude journal or reading a novel.
- No screens
Blue light from screens – TV, mobiles, ipads, computers – inhibit the production of melatonin. Melatonin relaxes the body and signals the time for sleep. Ideally no screens an hour before bed.
- Write a list
If you are having trouble sleeping because of all the things you have to do, write them all down on a list before you go to bed. That way you won’t be going over and over them in your mind.
Certain protein rich foods (chicken, turkey, cheese, nuts and seeds) release an amino acid called tryptophan which helps in the production of melatonin. Complex carbohydrates help with uptake of tryptophan. Ideally don’t go to bed with a full stomach, eat dinner earlier and have a snack later in the evening combining the protein and carbohydrate to get the best results. Avoid caffeine and stimulants after lunch.
Moderate, regular exercise leads to better quality sleep. However, don’t exercise at night as this can keep you awake! A gentle night time yoga practice or relaxation exercise are the exception and should be encouraged.
- Other help
Sometimes with all the best effort, sleep will still not come. Or perhaps it comes easily but you find yourself waking in the middle of the night and unable to get back off again. If you are finding yourself fatigued, waking un-refreshed, having to rely on stimulants to get through the day and you are still irritable, you are probably not sleeping as well as you could. Homeopathic remedies and homeobotaniclal tonics can help. If you would like to know more, please do book a free 15-minute chat.