WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT TO OUR HEALTH?
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
Sleep is the most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body health each day! We all need different amounts of sleep, most adults need between 7-9 hrs. You are generally sleep deprived if you get less sleep than you need to feel awake and alert.
Why We Need Sleep
Your body is busy while you sleep and uses that time to perform essential functions in our body. To function optimally your body needs sleep as much as it needs air and food. While you sleep your body is healing, repairing cells, restoring energy and chemical balance, the brain forges new connections, gets rid of toxic waste, stores new information and helps your memory retention.
Stages of Sleep
Sleep is categorised into Non-REM (NREM) which is quiet sleep and REM sleep known as active sleep.
Between being awake and falling asleep (5-10 mins).
Light Sleep, heart rate and breathing regulate and body temperature drops (20 mins).
Non REM Deep Sleep, muscles relax, blood pressure and breathing rate drop, deepest sleep occurs.
REM Sleep - Brain becomes more active, body becomes relaxed and immobilised, dreams occur, eyes move rapidly (around 90 mins after falling asleep)
Everyone dreams, we spend about 2 hrs a night dreaming but might not remember. We don't know the exact reason for this but it could be for helping you process your emotions, events from the day or any anxiety or stress you are feeling. Dreams can happen in all stages of sleep but usually are most vivid in REM sleep.
How We Sleep
Different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms, that are synchronised with a master clock in the brain. The master clock is directly influenced by environmental cues, especial light, which is why the circadian rhythms are tied to the cycle of day and night.
Circadian rhythms are part of the body's internal clock that carry out essential functions and processes, and run in 24 hr cycles. One of it's most important is the sleep-wake cycle.
The circadian rhythm aligns our sleep and wakefulness wth day and night to create a cycle of restorative rest that enables increased daytime activity. When this is thrown out of rhythm by night shifts, jet lag, late nights and getting up late, it can create sleeping problems including insomnia.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affects Us?
Research over the years has shown that people can be physically and psychologically damaged from not getting enough sleep. It only takes a few bad nights to start affecting your emotional and physical health. We all know how flat and off your game you feel when you've had just even one bad nights sleep!
Sleep derivation slows your reactions, makes you forgetful, impairs your judgement, causes weight gain, mood swings, ages your skin, can cause depression and anxiety, affect your sex drive, cause memory loss, decreased fertility, affect brain function, and put you at more risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
How to Fall Asleep
Decrease Blue Light & Bright Light Exposure
Bright lights and blue light tricks your body into thinking it's daytime, decrease light exposure 2 hrs before bed.
Don't Drink Coffee After Lunch
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but as a general rule, have coffee in the morning and try to have decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas in the afternoon.
Exercise improves your sleep and health, but don't exercise too late in the day, as it increases alerts and adrenaline, which can make it harder to relax and sleep.
Don't Take Irregular Long Naps.
Short power naps can be beneficial, but longer naps can confuse your internal clock, and make it harder to sleep at night.
Don't Eat Late at Night
Eating late at night can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption.
Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times
Irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin which signals your brain to sleep. Set a bedtime that allows you at least 7hrs sleep.
Establish a Sleep Routine
Your sleep routine is very important to signal your body and mind that it is time to switch off, relax and get ready to sleep. Be consistent and find what works for you. You can try a hot bath or shower, bedtime meditation or reading.
Buy a Good Bed, Mattress & Pillows
You spend around one third of your life sleeping, and the quality of that sleep contributes to the quality of our life, so it makes sense to spend money investing in a good quality mattress, pillows & bed linen.
Make sure your bedroom is a place of calm, organised, clean and clutter free, nice temperature, soft lights, and a relaxing room to be in.
Limit the Use of your Bed to Sleep, Sex, Reading & Meditating
Not for working, internet researching, social media scrolling, hanging out, watching movies, using as a dining table, piling with objects or clothes, cutting/painting nails etc. You are more likely to fall asleep if your body knows what is happening when you get into bed and isn't anticipating an exciting menu of activities.
If you want to live a healthy, happy and productive life, work on and prioritise your sleep routine.