Stress and sleep

February 21, 2013

Around one third of our lives is spent sleeping. Sleeping recharges, rebuilds and repairs our bodies. We also detoxify during sleep.

If you are not getting enough sleep, you are not giving your body the chance to de-stress both mentally and physically. Good sleeping patterns can boost your immunity & even help you lose weight.

Sleep deprivation is linked to disorders including depression, aggression, poor concentration, lowered immunity, and even chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome. Studies have shown that getting only 4 – 6 hours of sleep per night begins a progressive and cumulative deterioration in performance and mood. After less than one week of sleep deprivation, your body actually starts to mimic the symptoms of diabetes!

Signs that you are not getting your necessary dose of sleep include poor motivation, the need for ‘pick me ups’ like coffee, sugar and cigarettes, headaches, depression and anxiety. If you find that you put your head on your pillow and pass out, then you have a sleeping problem! It may not seem so, but the proper process of sleep should on average take 7 – 10mins. Hitting the pillow and passing out bypasses this.

Circadian rhythms are an important part of healthy sleep. Circadian rhythms are our bodys natural 24hr cycles that are stimulated by the light of the day and the dark of the night. Circadian rhythms result in hormonal release, and other physiological functions that instruct our bodies on our natural sleep / wake cycle. Melatonin, for example, is a hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep. The production of melatonin is inhibited by light, leaving us naturally inclined to ‘wake’ at the light of the day. The key to circadian rhythmicity is to do things at the same time every day and night. Factors that wreak havoc with this function include jet lag and shift work.

Re-working your sleep is by no means an easy task but is one that can benefit your life in untold ways. Amy, our amazing Saltuary Naturopath for one, will be able to help you with this!

Guidelines for healthful sleep and circadian rhythm balance include:

– Establishing a regular set time for going to bed and for getting up and sticking to it.

– Avoid tyramine containing foods after 5pm. These include the nightshade family of vegetable (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, spinach), starches, alcohol, bacon, ham, sausage and dairy. These foods promote adrenalin production, robbing you of the body’s natural chemicals required to sleep healthfully.

– Avoid caffeine – especially after midday.

– Avoid alcohol and nicotine.

– Exercise, but not too close to bedtime.

– Avoid naps.

– Best sleep is from 9pm to 5am.

– Ensure your room is completely dark, noise free and away from electrical appliances (including mobile phones).

– Switch off any electrical goods at the wall if they cannot be moved altogether.

– Avoid using an electric blanket.

– Do not smoke 2 hours before bed.

– Avoid drinking soda drinks.

– Supplement with good quality calcium and magnesium. Good food sources include peas, salmon and greens.

– Tryptophan is another amino acid that promotes healthy sleep. Bananas, tuna, figs, dates, most nut butters and wholegrain crackers are rich sources.

About an hour before going to bed:

– Engage in a relaxing, non-alerting activity.

– Do not eat or drink too much.

– Maintain a preferably cool (approx 19 degrees), but comfortable sleep environment.

– Avoid watching TV before bed.

– Eat light meals only at night. Your body needs to use this energy to rejuvenate itself, rather than spend the night digesting.

.. and finally, something else I thought I’d add.. It’s about floatation therapy – one of the amazing therapies we’ll offer at Saltuary. A 1 hour float has the equivalent restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep on the body. Due to the relaxing effects of floating, most people find that they also start to sleep better and that their sleep patterns also become more regular… zzzzzzzz…… zzzzzz…… zzzzzz….. It’s also wonderful for getting over jet lag!

Sweet dreams everyone..

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