SLEEP

SLEEP Share

Sleep is critical for health. Sleep is a major contributor for an energetic, joyful, healthy life.

Whilst we sleep our body works very hard to get everything into balance.

  • it regulates metabolism and hormones
  • regenerates tissue
  • improves cognitive function and mood
  • boosts immunity
  • it is important for optimal bone health (i)
  • it is ‘food for the brain’

 Lots of us take sleep for granted and if we are busy and get behind with tasks, work or studies we sacrifice our evenings and work till late at night and miss out on our sleep. We can cope now and then but if we let this go on for too long we end up with a number of health problems linking to mood disorders, poor immune function, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and lower life expectancy. Also not getting enough sleep or getting poor-quality sleep negatively affects hormones that make us hungry and store fat. Therefore if someone wants to lose weight but doesn’t sleep well it will make things difficult. Chronic sleep restriction may ultimately change the fundamental properties of the neuroendocrine stress systems and then we cannot deal with daily stressors as well as we could. (ii) Unfortunately this scenario is very common for lots of people. We need to shift that mind-set and realize our sleep schedule is just as important as everything else in our daily regime. If we do prioritise a good nights sleep we will see immense payoffs for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

What about the exposure to blue light?

We all need exposure to bright blue light during the day to help entrain our circadian rhythm. That is of course the natural light outside, which contains the blue light. It is the artificial blue and white light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) used to provide illumination in industrial and commercial environments and also used in TVs, computers, smart phones, and tablets that can mess up the circadian rhythm. (iii)

Blue light in the evening can trick our brain into thinking it is daytime, which inhibits the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone, and reduces both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

There are some tips for good sleep hygiene:

  1. Ideal time to go to sleep is between 10-11pm most days.
  2. Make the bedroom a device-free sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a quiet and peaceful haven. Any technology whether it is TV, computer, telephone or even electronic alarm clock is associated with poor-quality sleep and shorter sleep duration.
  3. Minimize blue light exposure at least 2 hours prior to bedtime due to brain stimulation. Reading is one of the good ways to prepare yourself for a good nights sleep. If you do need to work on the computer then get yourself blue light blocking glasses and install a programme on your computer and phone called f.lux which adjusts the colour and brightness of your screen based on your time zone.
  4. Keep your bedroom dark by having blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask if the room is not dark enough (hotel rooms…)
  5. Keeping the right temperature is also important. We do not want our bedroom too hot. The ideal temperature is around 18˚
  6. Use a red or orange light bulb in the evening for relaxing.
  7. Try to have your last meal at least 2 hours prior to your sleep time so the food gets digested whilst you are still up.
  8. Clear your mind. Sometimes that can be very challenging due to many reasons. Try to do meditation, deep breathing and light stretching before bed.
  9. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks.
  10. Make sure to get good natural light in your eyes every day for at least 20 minutes, preferably in the morning as it triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycle.
  11. If you suffer with insomnia or with bad sleep you can try having valerian root tea, chamomile or lavender tea.
  12. Try a magnesium bath with some lavender essential oil drops.

 

Sources:

  1. Swanson, C. M. Kohrt, W. M. Buxton, O. M. et al. 2018. Metabolism: Clinical and experimental. ‘The importance of circadian system & sleep for bone health’. Accessed 14th Feb 2019. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29229227
  2. Meerlo, P., Sgoifo, A., Suchecki, D., 2008. Restricted and disrupted sleep: Effects on autonomic function, neuroendocrine stress systems and stress responsivity. Sleep Medicine Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2007.07.007