Did you know that we have different qualities of sleep and that the quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight? No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!
While you sleep your brain stays busy and oversees a wide variety of biological maintenance that keeps your body running well and preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential.
Sleep is often one of the first things to go awry when you start having difficulties with your mental health. People report either getting irrrgular sleep, not enough sleep or too much sleep. It’s pretty important to make sure you have a regular sleep pattern and make sure you protect time before bed to be sure you can settle and allow yourself a chance for the best sleep quality possible. We can the process of protecting time around a regular sleep pattern a sleep hygiene routine.
The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommend:
- Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
- Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
- Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
- Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults.
- Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
- Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
- Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
- A really handy app that can help you monitor the quality of your sleep is called Sleep Cycle and we love using this to track how the people we work with are sleeping. The app also helps you wake up at the best time in the morning to make it easier to get out of bed refreshed.
While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night.
Sleep Cycle alarm clock
Your movements vary with each sleep phase. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep states by tracking movements in bed. Sleep Cycle uses a wake up phase (30 minutes by default) that ends at your desired alarm time. During this phase Sleep Cycle will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly, when you are in the lightest possible sleep state.
That’s all for now
Dr Lauren Sayers & Dr Emily Callan