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Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Ask any new parent how they are, most will say they have a profound appreciation for sleep and why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique

Sleep is overwhelmingly more important to your mental and physical wellbeing than diet or exercise.

5 reasons sleep is critical

  1. The brain regenerates as we sleep.  One study done on by the Mental Health Foundation that found that people that didn’t get enough sleep were four times as likely to suffer from lack of concentration, have relationship problems and 3 times more likely to be depressed and 2.6 times more likely to commit suicide.
  2. The heart rests & recuperates- a University of Warwick study found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a continuous basis makes you 48% more likely to die of heart disease and 15% more likely in developing a stroke.  People over the age of 65 are 83% more likely to have high blood pressure
  3. Good rest makes weight control easier.  While there have been no studies directly linking obesity and a lack of sleep, there is strong anecdotal evidence that fatigue influences poorer diet choices, specifically choosing higher calorie foods.  There is speculation that “sleep duration affects the hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin — and stimulates the appetite.”
  4. You are likely to live longer if you regularly get proper sleep. On average we we spend approximately 24hrs of our lifetime sleeping.  Spending less time between the sheets during your lifetime may mean less time over the long run. Research on the
  5. It boosts your immunity.  Several studies show that people who work night shifts or do not regularly sleep enough are far more susceptible to illness and take longer to recover.

The bottom line, a lack of sleep not only totally counter productive for wellbeing, it a ‘ticking time bomb’ for your health. 

Robber Barrons of a Good Nights Rest

How much sleep you actually need is of some debate but generally, 7-9 hours is considered the average.  Trying to figure out why you are always so tired, this is an excellent video explaining the key factors effecting sleep.  Namely:

  1. Number of Hours
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Coffee- a reliance on java can actually make you more sleepy as your body sugar levels drop following the initial jolt.
  5. Dehydration.  Drinking enough water throughout the day is good for you during the wakeful hours, it also enables a better sleep.
  6. Alcohol.  It reduces the amount of REM sleep especially during the second 4 hour phase of sleep.
  7. Consistent sleep schedule.  There really is a strong connection to following a natural rhythm to the day.  There is a method to the madness of pumping oxygen into casinos. While it temporarily gives the body a jolt of energy it is unnatural and not at all good for you (another reason not to gamble :)

What can I do to reset my body clock?

The truth is that it is relatively quick to fix your sleep habits, however, as with any lifestyle tweak you do need to show a little discipline getting over the hump.

  1. Early to Bed, Early to Rise.  While hard research is still hard to come by on whether or not quality of sleep is effected by when you sleep, there is abundant evidence to show people who go to bed early and wake up early are far more productive.  We are finding the same to be generally true of the dedicated athletes we profile in our dreamcatchers section.
  2. Nap.  While you will not go into a deep sleep mode, 20min naps will recharge your body and help train your brain to relax so that it will be easier to fall asleep at night.
  3. Turn down the thermostat.  Sleeping in cooler temperatures (about 71 degrees) helps you fall asleep faster and begin REM sleep soon.  REM is the most important stage of the sleep cycle for regenerating the body.
  4. Consider starting a meditation practice, specifically, Yoga nidra.   This style of meditation is the characterized as the “deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness”.  Not only has it been scientifically shown to change the electrical activity of the brain thereby reducing stress, it is also powerful way to help treat insomnia.  This simple practice of calming the mind can be a very helpful tool when counting sheep doesn’t go far enough.

 

 

USEFUL LINKS

  1. “How much sleep do you Need?”  Super video resource that breaks down the science behind sleep.
  2. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/improving-sleep-a-guide-to-a-good-nights-rest
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/sleep-strengthens-healthy-brain-connectivity



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