• Nicola Zaina

How to have Healthy Sleep

As winter sets in I relish the longer nights and a chance for a bit more sleep. While getting to bed earlier is easy I really struggle to get up in the dark.

Mother Nature has assumed that getting enough sleep would never be a problem for us but nowadays so many people suffer from poor sleep. We seem hard-wired to panic when we don’t get enough.

That's because sleep is vital for our well being.

Neuroscientist Matthew Walker TED talk explains what happens to our health when we don’t get enough sleep. If you are someone who is already anxious about the lack of sleep then maybe give the video a miss. It may make you more anxious.

In his book “Why we Sleep” he takes a deep dive into sleep and the implications on our health. Not getting enough sleep impacts on hormones, brain function, cardiovascular health and most importantly immunity. Sleep even impacts on our genes.

We should never underestimate the importance of sleep for our well-being. We often take good sleep for granted. But for those that suffer from poor quality sleep or not enough sleep or insomnia, sleep can be elusive.

Taking herbal or homoeopathic remedies to help us sleep may provide some relief but we also need to practice good sleep hygiene.

Here are some of Matthew Walker’s suggestions on ensuring Healthy Sleep.

Regularity - stick to the same schedule, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time and do the same on weekends. Sleeping in on the weekend just makes it harder to get up on Mondays.

Keep it cool - in order to fall asleep our body drops the core temperature, so sleeping in a cool room is better. It’s not a good idea to sleep with an electric blanket, rather use a hot water bottle.

Exercise - try to get 30 minutes of exercise early in the day. Avoid exercising 2-3 hours before bed.

Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol - The first two are stimulants and can affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol can help you relax but too much stops you from deep REM sleep.

Eating late - Best not to eat too late as indigestion can impact on your sleep and avoid sweet treats after dinner as they can spike your blood sugar. Late night drinks can also disturb your sleep when you have to go to the toilet.

Medication - Check that any medication you are on is not affecting your sleep, some supplements and herbs can make it difficult to fall asleep rather take them early in the day.

Naps - We have a biphasic sleep pattern, which means we used to sleep twice in a 24-hour cycle. Who hasn’t felt the afternoon dip? A 30 - 60 minute nap in the afternoon is what is natural for us. But if you are struggling to sleep avoid naps after 3pm

Relax - Get into a bedtime ritual, prepare your body for bed dim the lights, put on calming music and turn off devices and WIFI

Baths - a warm bath before bed can actually help lower your body temperature which is what you want to be able to sleep better

Bedrooms - are for sleeping in and should be dark when you go to sleep, keep the lights soft and the room cool and well ventilated. Avoid having bedside clocks especially if you struggle to sleep. No TV in bed, devices or bringing work to bed.

Daylight - getting enough sunlight exposure can help you sleep better. Try and get out into the morning light for at least 30 minutes it helps your body regulate the wake/sleep cycle.

Lying Awake - If you cannot get to sleep and you are getting anxious as you lie awake, get out of bed. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea or try and focus on soft gentle breathing. Keep the lights dim and don’t do anything too stimulating.

I hope these suggestions help improve the quality of your sleep. I plan to turn off the wireless at 9pm tonight and light some candles instead.

On that note, I hope you have a good nights sleep.

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