Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Quality sleep is one of the most under-appreciated pillars of vibrant good health and
strong immunity. While we sleep, particularly during deep sleep, the magic of our
body’s restorative mechanisms kick into action.
The benefits of deep restorative sleep include:
It helps repair and rebuild tissue after the wear and tear of everyday life.
Enables an internal resetting of our body’s physiology is enabled.
Allows our brain and nervous system to cleanse and detoxify metabolic waste and toxins which can build up within the central nervous system during the day.
It is important for the building and repairing of muscle after exercise training or gym work.
Activates prefrontal cortex which control functions such as empathy, sympathy and actions affect our environment, our planet etc.
The hormone Melatonin is released prior to and during sleep which upregulates antioxidant enzymes and helps break down beta-amyloid plaques, and helps promote Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which promotes growth and regeneration of nerve cells.
Good quality sleep is vital to our immune system, our brain function, mood, energy, hormone balance and inflammation control.
Studies have shown links between a myriad of chronic health conditions and poor quality sleep, including; low immunity, hormonal issues, chronic inflammation, depression and anxiety, obesity, memory and cognition problems, sugar cravings, diabetes, mood swings, brain fog. In fact there is not a single aspect of our health that isn’t in some way influenced by the quality and quantity of the sleep we get. As adults, most of us need 7 to 8 hours sleep at night and more if recovering from illness, during stressful times and if exercising a lot. So start to prioritise SLEEP as part of your Self-Care strategies. You may well find that it is the key intervention to improving your overall health and wellbeing. These are steps we can take to minimise the negative impacts of the time charge:
Get plenty of natural light exposure early and often to assist your circadian rhythm which is your body’s innate 24-hour cycle based on the pattern of the sun.
Adjust your sleep schedule use small changes in your sleep schedule to mitigate the hour change. Sleeping 10-15 minutes earlier each night, over 5/6 nights, will not only help you “gain” back your hour.
Limit caffeine to no more than 1 to 2 cups tea/coffee per day and not after 3pm.
Unplug and power off all electrical devices in the bedroom at night especially mobile phones, laptops, game consoles, TVs etc. Consider disconnecting Wi-Fi.
Try to exercise for 40 to 50 minutes at least 5 times /week.
Avoid alcohol. It might help you get to sleep, but it interruptions in sleep patterns and quality.
Establish a sleep-promoting evening routine:
Go to bed early! Dim lights in the house in the evening. Avoid blue light from the back-lit screens for 2 hours before sleep. Consider using blue-light blocking glasses.
Avoid eating a big meal for at least 3 hours before bed.
Keep bedroom cooler as sleep comes easier in cooler temperatures. Ideally, keep your room around 20°C or less.
Write down your worries or the things that cause you anxiety. Make plans for what you might have to do the next day. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep.
Perform some light stretching or yoga before bed to relax your mind and body.
Listening to music or a guided relaxation meditation can help your body wind down.
Have a warm Epsom salts bath (1 cup of salts) with about 10 drops of lavender before bedtime. Soak for about a half hour.
Magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed helps relax the nervous system and muscles.
Try Herbal teas such as Chamomile, Passionflower or lemon balm.
Put a few drops of calming essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile or ylang ylang on your pillow or a diffuser.
Everyone has a different time of sleep routine but knowing what interventions you
can make to optimise this vital function to enormously impact your overall well-being.