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Sleep is important because it provides rest for the body and mind. The body regenerates and repairs itself during sleep.
What are the consequences of poor sleep?
If you think that poor sleep only results in feeling fatigued, then think again. Poor sleep takes its toll on your work, your relationships and everything else in your life. Why? Because being short of sleep doesn’t give the body enough time to repair and regenerate –which may affect your health in numerous ways, including:
Increased risk of: stress, anxiety, depression, memory issues, obesity, diabetes and heart attack
It can also lead to decreased judgement. Studies have shown that only getting five hours of sleep is the same as driving when you are drunk.
After reading/listening to all of these health problems your probably thinking you should go to sleep, and you’re right. But very few of us actually do…
Very few of us actually sleeping enough:
Did you know that most of us are getting, on average, 1.5 hours less sleep per night than we did in the past? This means that many of us fit the official medical definition of chronic insomnia – which is where you have trouble falling asleep, staying awake and/or waking up too early. The problem has become so common that sleep experts have hailed it the global fatigue crisis or GFC.
And whilst an hour or so less sleep may not sound like a lot, by the end of the week it can easily equate to more than a full night’s less sleep.
How much sleep do we need?
The best way to determine how much sleep you need is to simply listen to your body. On average, adults need seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night, however this is dependent upon what stage of life you are at. While getting enough sleep is important, what is even more important is that you get quality sleep. It’s no good sleeping eight hours if you keep waking up every hour.
How do we get a better night’s sleep?
There are many great tips for sleeping I can share with you for getting a great night’s sleep but here are my top 10…
Give yourself permission to sleep:
Part of getting enough sleep includes giving yourself permission to have more sleep, which can often be difficult for us to do in a world where busyness has almost become a badge of honour. I get that we are all busy, but sleep is not a “nice to have”, but rather a “need to have”.
The reality is that we find it so difficult to get into shape and be healthy, not because we are not willing to work out or eat the right foods, but rather because we are not willing to sleep enough to allow our bodies to repair and become healthier and stronger.
Please give yourself permission to get adequate sleep. Even if you’re only half way through your to do list; trust me, it will still be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that too.
Be intentional about it – Set an evening alarm:
If you need to wake up for work at 6am, then set an alarm on your phone in the evening to remind yourself to go to sleep. Set it for 8.30-9pm to ensure you get the required sleep. This is a great way to get into the habit of going to bed when you should during the week. Obviously there will be exceptions when you can’t stick to this, such as when Game of Thrones is on. But if you stick to it as much as possible, you’ll get the sleep you need.
Many of us are relying on, and even becoming addicted to stimulants to fire up our adrenals to provide a temporary boost of energy to help us get through the day. This can put our adrenal system under an enormous amount of strain, leading to adrenal fatigue. Many of us are addicted to coffee and energy drinks to give us that boost we need.
My tip: drink coffee because you enjoy not, not because you need the energy hit. Limit caffeine intake to 2 cups a day and drink them in the morning; the same rule applies to tea, chocolate and other stimulants.
When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called beta-endorphins which improve your mood and promote feelings of calmness. This, combined with the fact that your muscles get a great work-out and need rest to repair, makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night. However, try to avoid exercise a few hours before going to bed as this can cause alertness later when you should be sleeping. Also, regular stretching helps to release tension from your muscles, enabling you to relax and fall asleep more easily when you are in bed. Yoga and massage are also good.
Did you know that almost 70% of Aussies use their phones in bed? The problem is that viewing content just prior to bedtime on your phone or any other device such as a computer or television, can wind up your mind and make it harder for you to settle down.
Use a blue light filter:
Blue light from the screens of most electronic devices can seriously affect your sleeping patterns by interfering with your bodies’ ability to produce melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone.
If you must use such devices within a few hours of bed time, then turn on the blue light filter within the device itself, if it has one. Otherwise you can buy a blue light screen which fits over the top of your device.
Remove yourself from Electromagnetic Fields (EMF):
EMFs are a specific type of radiation produced by certain appliances, household devices and things like power lines. EMFs are detrimental by affecting the production and regulation of melatonin, and can also affect cell division and multiplication.
To ensure you get a good night’s sleep, remove EMFs from your bedroom, especially those located within a few meters of your bed. These include power-boards, wiring, clock radios, computers, televisions, electric blankets, overhead lights and fans, and ESPECIALLY your mobile phone. If you use your mobile phone as an alarm, switch it to flight mode.
Do you know you can get the best night’s sleep when all is well in your life? When you live in alignment with your highest truth, including knowing who you really are; you no longer live in the past and automatically begin to live more in the present.
The result of this is a deep sense of inner peace and calm, and with it, comes an increased ability to fall and stay asleep without distraction or worry of mind – regardless of what is going on in your life!
Meditate or listen to relaxing music:
If you still find that your mind is racing as you hit the pillow at night, then basic meditation techniques such as mindfulness, slow rhythmic conscious breathing, progressive relaxation, visualisation meditation, or even listening to relaxing music such as classical or meditative can all help.
Try natural sleeping aids:
Most natural sleeping aids/herbs aren’t sedating like sleeping pills, but they are very effective at helping you to fall asleep and stay asleep. These include things such as Melatonin and Valerian, however, it’s best to see a naturopath for more tailored advice. If natural sleep aids don’t work, then consider other medications. However, sleeping pills should only be used as a last resort – they are not a long term solution and often have detrimental effects on our health if used long-term.
Consult a professional:
If you try all of these things and still have trouble sleeping, then it’s a good idea to seek professional medical advice. Consult your doctor who may be able to help or refer you on to a sleep specialist. You may have restless legs, sleep apnoea, chronic insomnia or any other medical condition which may be affecting your ability to have a good night sleep and of which will require further assistance.
Leave a Comment
I have lots more great sleeping tips which I will share with you during the week, however for now, try some of the things from this list and let me know how you go. In particular, I’m interested to know what things you find the most effective when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep?