I don’t know about you, but if I’m not getting enough sleep I get pretty grumpy, pretty quickly and I find that simple problem solving becomes rather complicated.
Did you know? In total we spend about 25 years of our life asleep!
According to a recent survey commissioned by News Corp and Princess Cruises (I’m not sure why a cruise line would commission this report – I know most of us sleep better on holidays…) about 37% of Australians get less than seven hours per night of sleep.
The survey is in line with findings from Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation, which, in August, warned sleeplessness was responsible for a $1.8 billion annual health bill and lost productivity costs amounting to $17.9 billion.
Sleep – why do we need it?
Why then do we need to sleep? Scientists have been exploring the question for some time and whilst there is still so much to learn about the complexities of our fabulous brains, a few theories have been researched.
Restoration theory – sleep provides the body with the opportunity to repair and rejuvenate itself. Studies show that muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and growth hormone release occur mostly or only during sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, this may impact on your ability to lose weight.
Brain plasticity theory – ooh, I love this stuff. Sleep positively impacts on the structure and organisation of our brains. It seems if we don’t get enough sleep, this has a profound effect on our ability to perform tasks and learn new things.
Want to make a positive change in your life? Get some quality zeds.
Sleep is also involved with the following processes:
- Anti-stress reactions and emotional soothing
- Immune responses
- Growth and time-keeping
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Learning and memory acquisition
Given that we spend a third of our life doing it, I reckon it’s worth doing it right!
What if you’re not getting enough?
We’re still talking about sleep people…
According to Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation chair, Professor Dorothy Bruck, if four out of every 10 Australians are suffering from inadequate sleep, half of those would be experiencing ongoing pathologically high levels of daytime sleepiness.
The cost of sleep deprivation is utterly alarming. How alarming, I hear you ask…To be exact, 3,017 deaths in 2016-17 were estimated to have been partly caused by sleeplessness, including traffic and industrial accidents or as a consequence of heart disease or diabetes.
A normal night’s sleep has three main parts:
- Quiet sleep. This is divided into stages 1-4. Each stage becomes more deep. Quiet sleep is sometimes called deep sleep.
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep occurs when the brain is very active, but the body is limp, apart from the eyes which move rapidly. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
- Short periods of waking for 1-2 minutes. This should occur every couple of hours.
As mentioned, about 1 in 3 of us feels dissatisfied with either our sleep quality or quantity. Insomnia can be described as:
- Not being able to get off to sleep.
- Waking up too early.
- Waking for long periods in the night.
- Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep.
If you have poor sleep, you may be tired in the daytime, have reduced concentration, become irritable, or just not function well. Gosh, that sounds like a barrel of laughs.
Scientific research has shown that it is important to develop good ‘sleep hygiene’. Read on for tips.
The bedroom should be for sleep and sex. Yes indeed!
If you want to improve your sleep quality, ditch the technology. Looking at Ipads is akin to being in daylight and televisions, whilst prosaic, will interrupt your sleep.
Other tips that may help.
- Personal habits:
- Fix a bed time and awakening time, including on weekends and holidays.
- Skip the daytime naps
- Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime
- Drink your caffeine in the morning
- Lose the heavy, spicy or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bed
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed
- Use comfortable bedding
- Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated
- Block out all distracting noise
- Reserve the bed for sleep and sex
- Getting ready for bed:
- Try a light snack before bed (see recipe “bit on the side”)
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed (I have found the Yoga Nidra App very helpful before bed)
- Don’t take your worries to bed
- Establish a pre-sleep ritual
Does counting sheep work? Apparently not so much, it didn’t work for Bert!
If sleep issues are a problem for you, please come and have a chat to see how we can help. I have recently started compounding. Similar to those wonderful herbal tonics I concoct for you, I can further individualise your prescription with powders. A good sleep compound may include magnesium as a base with added GABA and inositol (amino acids and vitamins)
The discussion continues in the next post, but for now I’ll leave you with this:
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” Ernest Hemingway.