Sleep – are you getting enough?
May 31st, 2019
We all know that we feel better for a good nights sleep. But do enough of us make it a priority? And why is it so important?
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends. Often, the first thing to suffer is our sleep with consequences for both our immediate and long-term health. In the short-term, we can feel irritable and tired, with difficulty concentrating. We reach for high carbohydrate ‘comfort’ foods in an attempt to find some energy but this actually has the opposite effect as we deprive our body of nutrients and gain weight.
Longer-term, chronic lack of sleep can cause havoc with our hormones, and increases our risk of heart disease, diabetes as well as cancer. In fact, one study has shown that people with long-term sleep problems have a three-times greater risk of dying from any cause.
Two simple things you can do straight away if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep:
1. Sleep in complete darkness. This will boost your melatonin secretion, leading to a deeper, more restful sleep. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if streetlights are an issue.
2. Support your body’s natural rhythms by sticking to regular times for sleeping and waking. This is important to reflect your circadian rhythm and cortisol levels. A common issue for people who can’t sleep due to a ‘chattering mind’ is a too high cortisol level at bedtime; your cortisol level should reflect where you are in your sleep/wake cycle and your body loves routine.
An excellent book on the subject is Matthew Walker’s ‘Why we sleep’. Visit his website for more information.