Sleep is Natures Remedy.

 

What does sleep do for us?

It would probably be easier to ask ‘what doesn’t sleep do for us’ it truly is a foundation for living a Fit Life.

Sleep allows our bodies to rest and recover from our daily activities, our bodies really do heal themselves overnight fixing and repairing damaged cells.

The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort! NHS Choices – sleep

 

Getting enough sleep

We are all different so the amount of sleep we need can vary, some people say they can manage on 3 to 4 hours a night (I would like to know how) whilst others need a full 8 to 9 hours to feel well rested. What matters most though is that you find out what your optimal amount of sleep is. It is equally important to work on the quality of your sleep because 8 hours broken sleep isn’t good for you either.

 

What if I don’t sleep what will happen?

One or two late nights or broken nights will leave you a little irritable. Maybe lacking focus or feeling generally uncomfortable through the day, but it won’t do you any real harm in the short term. Especially if you settle back into your routine quickly.

If you suffer from more long term sleep deprivation, which comes from several sleepless nights or prolonged periods of poor sleep over a few weeks, then this has a more serious effect on you and your body. Your brain ‘fogs’ making it harder for you to concentrate and make decisions. Invariably it increases the number of mistakes you make during your day and it can be much harder to feel positive or a sense of joy.

“5.6 Hours of productive work time, on average, is lost every week due to fatigue”  Psychologies Magazine

Getting ourselves unstuck from a bad sleep pattern will take time. One good nights sleep isn’t going to fix a month worth of bad nights. In many cases of longer term sleep deprivation you also need to tackle the root of the problem, so understanding what is impacting your sleep is really important.

 

What impacts your sleep?

Take a look at your sleep gremlins. Are they physical, such as new born babies or are they interruptions to your routine due to shift patterns or working long hours and brining work home. Are they more subtle like your use of electronics late into the evening or general worries about work, family and finances. It could be a combination of any of those. The list goes on as these are unique to you. It is important to find what is impacting your sleep and be specific about it in order to address the problem directly.

 

How can I improve my sleep?

As with understanding what impacts’ your sleep, improving it can also be unique to you. Here are a few ideas which center around creating a good sleep routine. Try just one or two things to start with and see what works for you. Challenges that are not helped by tweaking your routine may need specific solutions so if the underlying issue is related to stress, worry or something more fundamental then you can seek professional support.

 

Set a regular bed time, go to sleep at a time that enables you to have the right number of hours sleep and be awake refreshed for your morning alarm call.  Your evening routine can then be worked back from this time.

Take some exercise during the day. Try walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace, but not to the point of being out of breath.

If you exercise regularly try to avoid vigorous exercise 2 hours before going to sleep as this will stimulate your body, making it harder to get off to sleep.

Sometimes a few yoga style stretches before bed can help your body relax.

Avoid eating a heavy meal 2 hours before going to sleep because this can make it more difficult to sleep.

Begin to wind down an hour or two before you are planning on going to bed, notice what you are watching on TV and avoid anything that over stimulates your mind or that will disturb you such as action or horror movies!

Try to avoid drinking coffee & tea after dinner. Caffeine can stay in the body up to 6 hours after taken and can act as a stimulant keeping you awake.

Also avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. It may make you feel sleepy, but you’re likely to need the toilet more often in the night disturbing your sleep.

Have a warm relaxing bath before going to bed and add some lavender oil to help you relax.

Try using relaxation techniques or listen to a relaxation CD before bed. Using a controlled deep breathing technique can also help to relax you.

Check that your mattress and pillows give you the right support.

Check your sleep environment is comfortable and as you like it, not too hot or cold, light or dark.

Keep a ‘To-Do-List’ by your bed and get into the habit of writing down your thoughts about what’s on your mind. You’re more likely to get a better nights sleep if you’re less anxious or worried about forgetting to do something.

 

Reclaim your life by getting a good nights sleep.