The Importance of Sleep for our mind, body and soul
Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?
(Matthew Walker, 2017)
This new treatment? Sleep!
As we all know, sleep is an essential bodily process, that, as suggested above, has many benefits. Not only does sleep allow our body and mind to rest and recharge, it also contributes to better physical wellbeing such as protection from illness, increased energy and improved digestion; as well as better psychological wellbeing, such as lower levels of anxiety, depression and irritability, and increased concentration, attention and memory. No wonder I love sleep so much!
The average adult will need 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, with teenagers and children needing substantially more (despite how much they may fight it!); and when it comes to how skilled a sleeper we are, our sleep cycle is largely controlled by our internal body clock, also known as our circadian rhythm. When it comes to our circadian rhythm, did you know that on waking in the morning (hopefully feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead!) exposure to natural light is really helpful as this signals to our body and mind that it’s day time. Similarly, as light fades as day turns to night, our body begins to release melatonin to induce drowsiness and help us to fall asleep.
Sadly sometimes sleep can elude us, and as well as feeling absolutely exhausted, we can feel incredibly frustrated and helpless. When it comes to sleep difficulties, the typical complaints relate to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, or conversely, if someone feels they are sleeping too much. When we look at what can cause these sleep difficulties, things such as aging, medical difficulties, stress or worry, depression, substance use or poor “sleep hygiene” are often the front runners.
If you can relate and would like to improve your sleep patterns, here are some important things to remember when setting yourself up for the perfect night’s sleep:
- Dim the lights
- Have your room at the optimal temperature (16-18 degrees)
- Reduce noise where possible
- Choose comfortable mattresses, pillows and sheets
- Surround yourself with scents you like (I love lavender)
- Switch off technologies. Your bedroom is a sanctuary that has no requirement for technological toys. Screen time prevents us from falling asleep and beeps, buzzes and even the tiniest standby lights can wreak havoc with the body’s circadian rhythm, so make sure everything is switched off or banned completely
- Let others know not to disturb you (I wish this worked for children!)
- Establish a realistic bedtime and stick to it as this is incredibly helpful for our circadian rhythm
- Learn ways to calm and regulate your nervous system if you feel your mind or body becoming active as your head hits the pillow, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation are all brilliant ways to do this
- Consider taking something to help you switch off if you find your mind racing at night time. RESCUE® NIGHT is free from sedatives and side effects and allows for a natural nights sleep, so you awake refreshed.
I hope I’ve left with food for thought and a recipe for the perfect night’s sleep. Of course all of the above tips may not be achievable for everyone, so really, it’s about thinking of ways you can prioritise sleep or minimise any factors getting in the way of it for you.
I wish you sweet dreams!