We all know how important sleep is, we’ve been told many times. But sometimes sleep can be pushed to the back of our minds and we forget just how important it really is. But the reality is that a lack of sleep can physically effect the body. Sleep deprivation increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity and depression.
Of course it’s easy to say we need 8 hours of sleep per night, but with our world becoming so fast and busy, it’s easy to get swept up with the flow. We say to ourselves that we will stay up that extra hour to finish our deadline, an hour that turns into several; one late night becoming a common occurrence until we find ourselves surviving on 5 or so hours sleep a night. But after a while our bodies will start to show signs of fatigue. If you start to find yourself having some of these symptoms it may be a sign that you are in need of more sleep.
Constant Hunger – If the brain is exhausted from lack of sleep, it will seek energy through food.
Weight Gain – Giving in to this hunger regularly could easily lead to weight gain due to the bodies metabolism slowing. The metabolism replenishes its energy as we sleep, a lack of sleep will disrupt it, causing it to slow.
Memory and Mind – Sleep deprivation can begin to effect your higher level cognitive processing, which can lead to you being indecisive and forgetful.
Getting Sick Easily – Your immune system produces cytokines which help fight infection, but these cytokines are produced during rem sleep. As the level of these cytokines lowers, as does your bodies ability to fight off illness, so inevitably your body will find it harder to shift that lingering cold.
Bad Skin – A lack of sleep effects the hormone balance and can impact your skin by causing break outs of acne. The body also produces collagen while we sleep, without it the elasticity of our skin begins to fail causing premature wrinkles.
With these symptoms in mind, is it any wonder why we call it beauty sleep! But I know as well as anyone that sometimes sleep just isn’t on the cards. I suffered from insomnia for around 5 years; because of this I picked up a few tricks to stop you working and to help induce sleep.
1. Try and go to bed around the same time each night. Our bodies run on routine, by giving yourself a bed time your body will begin to grow tried around this time. It worked when you were a kid!
2. Turn off all technology an hour before bed. The blue light emanated from phones, laptops etc, stimulates the brain back into activeness. If you use a device before trying to sleep your brain will be active making it harder for your mind to slow down and shut off. But putting devices away an hour before bed the mind is allowed to relax and will easily fall into sleep.
3. Make your bed attractive. By making your bed look appealing (making the bed every morning, having nice pillows and throws) it will make you look forward to climbing into your bed at night, meaning you are more likely to do so!
4. Leave the bed for sleep. Although it is tempting, try to not to lounge on your bed during the day. Leave the bed for sleep (and sex) that way your body will associate that space with sleep and will start to shut down once you climb in.
5. Routine. Have something you always do before bed. For me it’s light a candle and have a mug of peppermint tea. This routine relaxes me, letting my body and mind know its time for sleep.
6. The power of a 20 minute nap. If you must nap during the day set an alarm for 20 minutes, this amount of time is enough to rest your body without entering rem sleep, meaning you’ll wake up refreshed.
7. The hour 1/2 rule. Ever wake up at 5 am feeling totally refreshed but then wake up an hour later to your alarm feeling like death? That’s because you’ve awoken in the middle of a sleep cycle, rather than at the end. The depth of our sleep runs in hour and half cycles during rem sleep (deep sleep). To make sure you wake up refreshed, set your alarm to the end of one of these 1 hour 1/2 cycles.
Those are some of the tips that helped me get over insomnia without medication. Of course you don’t need to have insomnia to use them. They are all good practise for getting a good nights sleep.
What do you do before bed? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, just follow the bird.