If you’re experiencing stress or sleeping troubles this may be having adverse effects across many areas of your life including your work performance or your relationship with friends and family, not to mention finding time to exercise and eat well. There is overwhelming evidence to show that sleep is literally THE foundation of all health and wellbeing.
Not getting enough sleep each night can have a profound impact on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and has been shown to alter the expression of over 700 genes in the body. Studies show links between lack of sleep and a large array of health conditions including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature ageing, memory loss, substance abuse and weight gain.
During sleep our bodies are incredibly busy. Memories made and knowledge gained throughout the day are both consolidated and stored. The immune system ramps up to counteract the body’s exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. Muscle and tissues are repaired – another reason why sleep is a fantastic anti-ageing strategy! Various hormones are secreted to regulate growth and appetite. And waste management systems in the brain become active to flush out waste product and improve mental clarity.
Quality sleep supports optimal healing and repair in the body as well as better preparing you for the daily challenges of life. By prioritising your sleep you are protecting yourself from all aspects of ill health, offering your body the most powerful anti-stress strategy and ensuring you get more out of your day.
If you find it hard to achieve your 8 hours of sleep each night read on for our top sleep tips below:
- Prepare for tomorrow. Check your schedule as you finish work for the day so you are not wondering if you have forgotten anything for the next working day. Make a list of everything you need to do the next day. Then leave the office at the office. Keep a notebook by the bed in case you get some ideas that need to be remembered. Write them down and then forget about them until tomorrow.
- Set an alarm to start your bedtime wind down routine 1 hour before your anticipated sleep time. Science has shown that interacting with screens can delay sleep onset by up to 1.5 hours so try to avoid interacting with technology in the lead up to bedtime as the light emitted from these screens can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin (your sleep hormone) and stop you from getting your much needed rest.
- Reduce Stress. Stress is undoubtedly the most common reason for sleeping problems. Cortisol, a hormone produced during times of stress, is stimulating by its very nature and can have a serious impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you find you have a ‘second wind’ from 10pm until 1am and become energized at this time, or you go to sleep and wake again an hour or 2 later, or several times in the night – cortisol may be an issue for you.
You can reduce cortisol with these tips:
- Take a blend of vitamins and minerals which will help your body to manage cortisol response and nourish your nervous and adrenal systems. Look for a formula with a combination of the following ingredients Magnesium, B vitamins, Vitamin C and Tart cherry (a natural source of melatonin).
- Introduce stress reducing activities such as pre-sleep meditation apps, yoga and regular exercise.
- Limit your caffeine consumption throughout the day as this will initiate a stress response and caffeine can take up to 9 hours to be metabolised and may therefore interfere with sleep.
- Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol may help some people go to sleep but it does not promote good quality sleep. You don’t get the full phases of sleep and it will often wake you up between 12am and 3am, which according to Chinese medicine is ‘Liver’ time.
- Breathing Techniques. Deep slow breathing can reset your nervous system and induce a state of relaxation which will enable you to get to sleep. If you are not sure where to start there are some fantastic guided mediations and breathing technique videos online.