Sleep, beautiful sleep
Insomnia or lack of sleep is becoming more and more common. We take our ability to sleep for granted and yet it is one of the most basic and fundamental essentials of life. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
Why is sleep so important?
Getting enough sleep is vital for both physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect some individual’s ability to metabolise food, gain weight, and be productive during the day. Other people seem to be able to cope, regardless of how much or how little sleep they have. Nonetheless, lack of sleep has been shown to be instrumental in the development of may chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and will exacerbate stress and obesity.
What factors can influence sleep?
There are many factors that can influence our sleep patterns. Apart from the obvious habits of drinking too much coffee, eating too much sugar, watching too much TV or being addicted to cell phones and social media, there are other aspects that can interfere with sleep. One of these is our genes. There are patterns in genetic make-up that have been shown to dictate sleep in certain individuals. Circadian rhythms are linked to the gene, CRY1. Mutations in this gene have been linked to the increase production of a protein that inhibits the production of certain hormones that transition the body into deep sleep. However, sleep is a multi-faceted process, so identifying a gene variant may not necessarily “fix” the problem.
Another compound, melatonin, was also been found to be critical in developing a normal circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a hormone made by die pineal gland, which is located just behind the eyes. Melatonin levels usually rise in the mid to late evening, stay stable most of the night then drop off in the early hours of the morning. Natural light will affect how much melatonin the body makes.
Healthy Sleep Habits
Your daily routine, what you eat and drink as well as exposure to magnetic fields can impact both the quality and quantity of sleep.
Healthy sleep hygiene is a term used to develop a series of healthy sleep habits designed to improve your sleep. Try the following :
Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time each day, even during weekends and holidays.
Go to bed at a similar time each night. You need at least 6 – 8 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period, so if bedtime is around midnight and you know you have to get up at 5:00 am, you will not be able to have enough “deep” sleep.
If you are not sleepy when you go to bed, then read a book or listen to music until you are relaxed enough to sleep.
Make sure your room is comfortable and has the right temperature. If you are too hot or too cold, this will impact your ability to stay asleep.
Do not use bright lights in your bedroom.
Do not charge your cell phone next to your bed or even in the same room.
Avoid all blue lights in the bedroom. Blue light stimulated the brain and will not allow the body to “shut off” and relax. Blue light is often on humidifiers, televisions, DVD machines, cell phone chargers, etc.
Do not eat a large meal just before bedtime. Allow at least 2 hours after food before you go to sleep.
Regular exercise will ensure your body is tired enough to go to sleep. The time you exercise will depend on your own specific schedule. Exercising late at night may stimulate you and therefore prevent you from going to sleep.
Do not drink caffeine after 4:00 pm if you find it difficult to fall asleep.
Whilst alcohol consumption can make some people sleepy, the more you have, the more your natural sleep rhythms will be interrupted.
Do not drink too much liquid before going to bed.
There is much to be said for making sure you get your 8 hours of beauty sleep every day. People who do not sleep enough, age more quickly. Make sure you get enough sleep.