The Art of Sleep
Sleep is your number one starting point for good health. It’s when our body repairs itself. Our mind clears out the old and forms new connections. Without it, we age quicker, we’re unhappy, we get fat, and we’re more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Yet most of us are always a bit short on sleep. Or don’t wake feeling refreshed.So here’s some top tips that we share with our patients to help you get a good night’s healthful sleep.
1. Spend enough time in bed.
We need approximately 7-8 hours of decent sleep for optimal health. But it’s normal to take some time to fall asleep, and to not be in deep sleep the whole night. So for a good 7 hours of sleep you need to be in bed for approximately 8 hours.
2. Drink enough water throughout the day.
One of the biggest causes of restless or broken sleep is dehydration. Waking up frequently at night is your body’s cry for help. It’s thirsty. But no one wants to pee all night so drink plenty in the morning and afternoon. And taper off as the evening goes on. Try it for a few days, see how you feel.
3. Stop scrolling on your devices before bed!!!
It’s not enough to just switch the screen to orange mode and out of blue light mode. The constant flashing of images before our eyes sends our brain into a processing frenzy which lasts for several hours after we turn out the lights. Your brain can’t shift into decent sleep mode if it’s still processing the endless scroll of Facebook. Read a book. Knit. Cosy up to your other half/pet. But ditch the screen time.
Did you know it takes your body 12 hours to process caffeine? So, if you want to be asleep by 10:30, you really shouldn’t be drinking any after 10:30am. Some are more sensitive to this than others. Play around and find what works for you.
5. Get organised.
How many of us decide to go to bed then realise we’ve just got to do the dishwasher/sort the kids school bags/iron a shirt for the next day/put the bin out? Whoops. Suddenly getting to bed on time has gone out the window. Try and get all your tasks done before you sit down to chill out.
Many of us breathe just using the top part of our lungs. Ever watched a cat or a dog breathe? Or for that matter, a baby? They breathe all the way down so their belly rises and falls. When we do that we engage the diaphragm, which stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the nerve that tells our brain to chill out. When you go to bed, place a hand on your belly, and focus on making it rise and fall with slow deep breaths. Concentrate on that and your brain can’t be whirring about all your unfinished tasks, your body will relax, and sleep will follow.