Today is World Sleep Day! The sleep and health professionals state on average we 'should' be getting approximately 7-10 hours of sleep per night. In reality, as we know now, with everyday life stresses, work commitments, shift-workers, unemployment, pregnancy, children, illness, poor socio-economic issues and now the worry of coronavirus, the concerns are ever increasing. Currently there is a sleep epidemic with approximately 45% of the world's population in deficit.
Why is sleep so important? When we sleep our body and mind repairs and regenerates. Our mind allow our memories to be placed in the correct part of the brain. Sleep supports learning and memory. Sleep is an important part of daily life. The key is to gain quality sleep. It allows neurons to communicate with eachother. In fact it plays a 'housekeeping' role whilst you rest. Lack of quality sleep affects mood and can cause depression, high blood pressure, food and sugar cravings, weight gain, heart disease, unbalanced hormones, lethargy, fatigue, insulin resistance, diabetes, and of course affects our internal clock known as our circadian rhythms. When we don't get sufficient sleep our bodies search for energy sources and this zaps our energy, performance in work, driving ability, concentration levels, studying, and affects our daily lives causing us further anxiety and depression.
What is my role as a clinical hypnotherapist? I work with you to realise your goals and to assist you to make positive changes. So what are my top tips for a good night's sleep.
1. Bedroom. Check the temperature. A room too warm or too cold will affect your quality of sleep. A thermometer may be an idea to keep in your room, with warm cosy inviting bedding and a cosy area. Use the bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Reduce light, this will affect your natural melatonin required for sleep.
2. Winding down in the evening. Remove social media, reduce TV stimulation, remove laptops from the bedroom an hour or so before bedtime. Again this will affect your natural melatonin when the natural light and sun go down.
3. To stabilise your sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythms) ideally avoid lie-ins at the weekend to make up for lack of sleep, making up for sleep on the weekend can cause your body clock to not remain in sync and your pattern will worsen your sleep deprivation. If you can stick to a fixed time of going to bed and waking your body will then get used to this pattern.
4. Exercise regularly. Ideally a pattern of exercise is ideal however it is advised to not exercise too late at night as this can not allow sufficient time for your body to rest post exercise. Yoga, the gym, walking is great.
5. Reduce/remove caffeine. Chocolate, coffee, caffeinated drinks, carbonated drinks. It is advised to avoid 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.
6. Eat sensibly. Avoid spicy food, sugary food and avoid eating late at night. This can disturb your digestive system.
7. Reduce Alcohol & Cigarettes/Vaping. This is going to have an impact on breathing and relaxation, causing stimulation instead of calming.
8. Avoid naps if you can. This can affect your pattern and routine mentioned before when fixing your bedtime and waking schedule. If you cannot avoid napping, the experts suggest no more than 45 mins. After 45 minutes your body goes into deep sleep and you will feel groggy when waking and this is more harmful than no nap at all.
9. Fluids. Drinking plenty of water is great for concentration for studying, driving, and working the next day. Will pump your organs with vital fluids to work sufficiently reducing fatigue.
10. Work commitments/shifts. The body is not made to work at night-time. However we cannot all avoid shift work as part of life these days. If this is something you cannot avoid, earplugs are ideal, relaxation techniques that are mentioned below are ideal, getting someone else to walk the dog during the day, changing your hours if possible, or drastic measures to change your job. Financially though of course this is not always possible.
11. Sleep disorders (medical/situational): sometimes due to menopause, children's night waking, pregnancy discomfort, ill health, night terrors, narcolepsy, insomnia, apnoea. Please seek GP support for further advice to rule out anything sinister or to discuss referral. I can certainly help you to cope too.
12. Relaxation/Mindfulness/Breathing exercises/Music/Hypnotherapy. Any relaxation techniques that you try can only benefit you. Try what works best for you. If you wish to speak to me about sleep issues and how I can help contact me at www.daisychainwellbeing.co.uk on the contact page.
Sleep Hygiene is so vitally important towards a healthy lifestyle.