20 Aug Sleep isn’t sexy, but it’s essential! Why do we ignore it?
No-one boasts about how much sleep they had do they? It’s mostly the opposite “I only had 4 hours sleep last night and I feel terrible” Yet we do so little to prioritise one of the most important health giving benefits that is totally FREE.
Poor sleepers generally have poorer health and increased stress. It cost nothing so why don’t we sleep more? That’s a rhetorical question- you know why? It’s so often I hear that the TV kept us from our beds and again why? TV is always on catch up but our sleep isn’t. Sleep is vital for daily performance, whether work or sports and the body will recover during those sleep hours. If you need an alarm to wake you up and you feel ‘groggy’ for at least 30 minutes, maybe you need to start changing some of your night-time habits.
You are the only one to change, but all of these are essential. Technology in the bed room is the one most don’t want to stop and yet this is one of the most disruptive of sleep habits. A last minute check of social media often turns into 30 minutes, which loses you more than a full week of sleep over a year.
- Stop Technology- turn off the TV and computers, phones etc early in the evening. The light emitted from these devices disrupts the production of melatonin needed for sleep. The light from technology mimics daytime so your brain does not register it’s time to slow down. There is still much research taking place on the effects on the brain but most advice is to remove ALL technology from the bedroom. Put your phone on airline model if you use it as an alarm clock.
- Do Exercise- sedentary people find it harder to sleep. Older people who nap in the day and do not exercise often have sleeping difficulties. It’s best not to exercise too close to bedtime though as this will ‘wake’ your body up.
- Check out your Calcium and Magnesium levels- several studies show that if these are low they will cause you to wake up in the night. Calcium levels are high during REM (rapid eye movement) phase and if a deficiency is addressed normal sleep resumes. Calcium helps with the production of melatonin essential for quality sleep. A lack of magnesium is one of the main symptoms of chronic insomnia. Magnesium aids muscle relaxation.
- It’s important that you are consistent in your sleep times. If you aim to go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day your body gets used to the habit and responds accordingly.
- Stop Caffeine consumption after 3pm. This means tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate. (I know “chocolate??’) The consumption of caffeine disrupts the production of melatonin which makes us feel sleepy.
- Stop Alcohol- We tend to forget that alcohol is a drug and a poison to the body. It can make us sleepy but disrupts sleep patterns by stopping the deepest stages of sleep.
Hope that helps, personally making sure I get 8 hours sleep a night has really helped my ability to concentrate during the day and also do exercise well.