Sleep your way to better health
How many of you have gone to bed, only to toss and turn for hours? Or struggled to get out of bed in the morning? Poor sleep is a common problem for many people and unfortunately, its detrimental effects upon the body and the mind can be huge. Here are a few tips to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep!
Why do we sleep? Actually, we don’t know. Sleep from a survival perspective is high risk so why be vulnerable for so long? There are several competing theories about this. What we do know is that during sleep your body is actively working, repairing your cells, managing your metabolism, storing your memories and producing chemicals that are crucial to your well-being. For example, melatonin is produced at night and makes you sleepy. It also regulates your sleep cycle, helps reduce cholesterol levels and helps you control weight by teaching your body to burn the calories instead of storing them as fat.
How much sleep? Most adults require 6-10 hours of sleep per night. About 5% of the population require 6 hours or less. Over sleeping or under sleeping both lead to fatigue so it’s important to know how much sleep your body needs to feel rested. Being sleep deprived one night and then sleeping in over the weekend ‘to make up for it’ will not cancel out the detrimental effects of lack of sleep. In fact, sleeping in is basically making your body jetlagged. It confuses the body about time zones and you’ll find it more difficult to sleep the next night! So, if sleep is a problem for you get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends.
Sleep is good for mood. Unsurprisingly, getting a good night’s sleep promotes a positive, stable mood and higher levels of both energy and brain function; all of which can help improve performance and productivity. When you wake up feeling well rested, you have more emotional stability, which means you feel more prepared and able to manage stresses and problems.
Conversely, when you wake up feeling sleep deprived, you’re more likely to experience mood swings and higher levels of stress, anger, sadness, etc. Perceptions of anxiety and depression are exaggerated when sleep is disrupted. Research has shown that lack of sleep can lower your alertness and increase fatigue, and this in correlation with poor memory recall significantly lower your performance and productivity. Sleep-deprived individuals also have a higher risk of obesity, as the body hasn’t had a proper chance to manage metabolism, break down food and regulate glucose levels.
- lying in bed for hours just tossing and turning
- avoiding going to bed
- waking up in the middle of the night and difficulty going back to sleep
- feeling sluggish and depleted in energy
- needing copious amounts of caffeine, sugar or high energy drinks
- feeling emotionally unstable: like you’re on the edge and anything could tip you off
Tips to help you sleep:
- Avoid using electronics at least an hour before bed as the light before bed confuses the brain
- Have a routine to help your mind/body wind down before bed
- Maintain regular wake-up times, even over the weekends!
- Reduce and control caffeine and alcohol intake after lunch
- Keep your bedroom cool and air flowing
- Exercise regularly for 30 minutes everyday, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
- Have a hot bath 90-120 minutes before you sleep
Want more information on sleep?
In person: your GP, or us at the Parramatta Psychology Clinic
Read: Sleep Soundly Every Night; Feel Fantastic Every Day by Robert S. Rosenberg MD
written by Suji Varathalingam and Melissa Harries