At Pure Wellness we are passionate about health, about striving to be in ‘homeostasis’ or simply a state of balance. For the body to perform or function optimally we must nourish it, we must give it what it needs and allow it to recharge and rebuild.
Too often however, when striving to improve health, we simply focus on diet and exercise but forget about other fundamentals such as positivity, relaxation and of course sleep. We must balance work and activity with rest and recuperation and a good night’s sleep is essential to do so.
So what is a good night’s sleep? Well, tossing and turning for an hour before falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to get back to sleep certainly isn’t! Do you drop off quickly, sleep for 7-8 hours uninterrupted and wake up feeling refreshed and energised? If not, then you are displaying symptoms of imbalance. Sleep problems are often due to a combination of higher than desirable cortisol (a hormone produced by your adrenal glands) and lower than desirable melatonin (a hormone produced by your pineal gland). The balanced dance between the two help establish daily circadian rhythm, regulation of sleep/wake cycles. Disturbances in the natural cycles can have profoundly negative effects on all aspects of health.
So what can we do to address this? Firstly, stop doing things that make the problem worse! Intense exercise late in the evening will usually cause a rise in cortisol, as will cups of coffee throughout the day. Working late at night in front of a computer screen may be even more unhelpful, not only does it send the mind racing but the stimulatory effect of the harmful light can work to delay the release of melatonin, your body still assumes the sun is up!
What else can we do?
- Be Consistent
Try not to vary sleep/wake times too much.
- Early to bed
If work allows, try to get to bed earlier. Research suggests that sleep between 10pm and 2am supports physiological repair/regeneration, between 2am to 6am facilitates psychological/nervous system recovery.
- ‘Wind down’
Before bed, take a bath (add Epsom salts to calm the system), dim lights, turn off the TV, meditate…..
- Dark at night, light during the day
Reduce stimulatory light before bed and sleep in as dark a room as possible. Get plenty of natural light during the day. Natural exposure in the morning will signal the body to decrease melatonin and increase cortisol, this will help you wake up!
- Balanced meals
Stabilise blood sugar levels , especially in the evening. A carbohydrate dominant meal can easily send blood sugar skyrocketing with a following rebound of hypoglycaemia. This stimulates a cortisol response as the body strives to restore glucose levels.
- Unlpug and turn off
The signals and stimulatory effects of electrical items, Wi-Fi, cell phones etc can all disrupt sleep.
- Be active
Do something active, preferably earlier in the day whether formal exercise or just going for a walk.
So why not try taking a few steps to a better night’s sleep and try not to take your sleep (or lack of it) for granted. Be aware that the mechanism of aging is the failure to rebuild, improve your sleep and look and feel younger, maybe not like a baby but you can certainly sleep like one!