Tired of feeling tired? Sufficient sleep is essential to mending our mind and body. Shakespeare called sleep “the chief nourisher in life’s feast.” Avoid sleep starvation with these shuteye strategies.
Sleep to success
Just as phones won’t function unless charged, we don’t work unless we’re recharged. Sleep is the calming counterbalance to our daily demands. Spending a third of our life asleep may seem a waste but it’s necessary for health, happiness, and longevity. Sleep is a sanctuary where our body recovers from wear and tear. It also allows the mind to integrate memories, absorb lessons and process problems. Sleep keeps us sane which is why the Dalai Lama called sleep, “the best meditation.” Without sleep we don’t repair, rebalance and release regenerative hormones. Quality sleep is like miraculous medicine improving our mood, memory, coordination, cognitive abilities, appetite, appearance, energy, focus, immunity, inflammation, libido, blood pressure, blood sugar and stamina. If you’re not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours sleep a night you’re missing the sleep supplement that makes you feel great instead of groggy.
“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to,” said author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Being banned from your own battery charger breeds desperation and depression. Just skip sleep for a night and you’ll feel the physical and psychological impact. Sleep deprivation can have deadly consequences with 3,017 deaths in Australia over 2016-17 linked to sleeplessness according to the Sleep Health Foundation report. Fatigue increases accidents due to impaired observation, poor coordination and delayed reflexes. It’s theorised that many ADD diagnosed kids simply suffer sleep deprivation which affects attention span. According to the Harvard Help Guide lack of sleep has been linked to almost every condition including cancer, depression, diabetes, failure to thrive, heart disease, hypertension, inflammation, kidney disease, memory loss, neurological disorders, obesity, pain, reflux, respiratory diseases, schizophrenia, and stroke. If you’re not getting the anabolic boost of bedtime your body breaks down.
Sleep scarcity comes in many frustrating forms. Sleep disorders include periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, upper airway resistance syndrome, and circadian rhythm disorders. Many have trouble getting to sleep, frequently wake, rouse early or suffer shallow sleep. Common issues to address are noise, light, EMFs, stress, pain, digestive disturbances, frequent urination, stimulants, bed comfort, and routine.
Tweaking our sleep environment and routine often improves issues. Professor Matthew Walker of the neuroscience and psychology department, California Berkeley University and author of Why We Sleep, suggests five foolproof tips for better sleep.
- Wake and sleep at the same time every day.
- Get enough hours of sunlight and darkness. Reduce blue light from screens at least an hour prior to sleep. Screens are sleep thieves, robbing us of the ability to fall asleep quickly. Sleep in a completely dark room.
- Keep cool. Melatonin production is interrupted when our temperature climbs above 22 degrees to ensure the bedroom and bedding aren’t too hot.
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate which disturb sleep.
- Reserve the bed for sleep and snuggles. If you can’t sleep for 20 minutes get out of bed and do something relaxing until sleepy. If you’re tossing and turning to try these other tips for forty winks. Retire before 10pm, don’t eat or exercise within an hour of sleep, don’t nap longer than 30 minutes during the day, have a comfortable bed, minimise noise with earplugs, clear EMFs by pulling the circuit breaker pre-bed, sleep apart from your pet or partner if they disturb you, follow a relaxing ritual such as an Epsom salts bath, peppermint foot massage, lavender spritzer and a guided meditation. See the ten best sleep apps at www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/top-insomnia-iphoneandroid- apps.
Caroline Robertson is a Sydney-based naturopath and first aid trainer. For consultations or retreats contact www.carolinerobertson.com.au
Sleep deprivation can have deadly consequences with 3,017 deaths in Australia over 2016-17 linked to sleeplessness according to the Sleep Health Foundation report. Whatever the issue there are simple solutions to ensure deeper sleep. First pinpoint the problem then initiate effective fixes.