How is your sleep hygiene?
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
Do you sleep eight hours every night yet you are still tired once your alarm goes off in the morning? I know many people who are sleep deprived or who suffer from poor sleeping habits. For some sleeping might be totally overrated however it is as essential as food and water.
Sleep is crucial, as our bodies need time to rest, heal and repair our organ systems such as the immune system, muscles, hormones etc. Sleep also plays an essential role in when it comes to memory retention. Research has shown that the most important time for sleep is between 11pm and 1am, hence missing this timeframe will give the body a second-wind and cause it to stay alert.
We spend almost a fourth of our lives sleeping, although this does not always mean good quality sleep. So how much sleep do we actually need? As you can imagine there are various opinions out there, although research has shown that as adults we need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Don’t forget that we are all very different, and our lifestyles are not the same. Thus someone might be full of energy after 7 hours 25 minutes of good sleep while your partner might need more than 8 hours.
Sleep deprivation has become rather common in our society unfortunately, due to stress, family, lifestyle, technology, work demands, travel etc.
Extended periods of poor sleep especially deep sleep can have serious consequences for your health and well-being. Lack of good sleep can lead to small things such as poor memory and concentration, as well as more serious issues such as weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid, anxiety and much more.
Let’s put this into simpler words, extended sleep deprivation can be equivalent to your body experiencing high levels of constant stress. Thus your immune system weakens and the body is more prone to colds, flu and diseases. Why? During sleep a protein called cytokines is produced which helps the body with inflammation and infections. So not enough sleep means less cytokines is produced and antibodies become weaker.
How do stimulants impact our sleep?
This might be a no-brainer for some of you, but we are exposed to a number of stimulants on a daily basis, which impact our nervous system and the ability for the body to properly relax. Again we are all different, but these can include food (chocolate, sugar, sweets), drinks (alcohol, caffeine, theine, carbonated soft drinks), screen time: TV, PC, phone, ipad etc (including an amazing romantic comedy), nicotine, traffic, a noisy environment (music).
Are you able to switch off?
Another factor for poor sleep and insomnia is the inability to switch off. Many people use the bed as a thinking space, and are thus are mentally preoccupied right before sleep. Striking a good work life balance is quite a challenge these days as the mind likes to bring work related issues back home. Being able to switch off once you close your office door is not an easy task. As humans we tend to overthinking and analyse a lot, at all times.
Being able to switch off before bedtime is about letting go of the day, everything that has or hasn't happened and quieting the mind. How do you quiet something that keeps talking to you? Try to focus on your breathing, do a short meditation (perhaps using an app, such as Insight Timer), or a body scan by focusing your attention through the body step by step, head to toe in order to relax your mind and body. Remember, what you practice grows, so don't give up after the first try.
So what actually helps the body to relax and get a good night sleep?
For each one of us different things will work or not, hence it might take some patience and experimentation to see what best works for you.
Gentle movement such as yoga & walking (avoid cardio exercises before bed time)
Foods rich in magnesium (bananas, spinach, almonds)
Massage, reiki, acupuncture
Sticking to the same sleeping routine
Essential oils (lavender)
Avoid screen time minimum 1 hour before bed time
Avoid too much drinking (especially alcohol and caffeine) before going to bed
Herbal tea (no caffeine: camomile)