The A to ZZZ’s of Sleep

December 7, 2020

When it comes to staying healthy and fighting fit, you automatically review your participation in exercise and your nutritional intake.

However, another component that quite often gets overlooked is sleep and its importance to your overall health and wellbeing.

Sleep, or the lack of can have some detrimental effects to your everyday life. Did you know that roughly 30% of the UK population suffer with some form of insomnia? Let’s looks at some of the effects the lack of sleep can have on your body and how to achieve a healthy sleep routine.

The Importance of Sleep

• Mental health – reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. As we all know, moodiness is very common in the sleep deprived.

• Boost immune system – help kick those nasty viruses and bugs to the curb!

• Weight loss – leptin levels (hormone that regulates body weight) are elevated during sleep.

• Diabetes – a link has been made between the lack of sleep and type 2 diabetes.

• Heart disease and high blood pressure – better sleep can prevent both.

• Memory issues, trouble thinking or concentrating, poor balance and the increased possibility of accidents (from drowsiness).

• Sex drive and fertility – more sleep can increase this.

So, How Much Sleep Do You Need?

It should be noted that sleep requirements fluctuate from person to person, and it is recommended that adults get between 7 – 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Factors such as genetics, age and lifestyle can alter the bodies requirements for sleep.

Ultimately, only you will know the right amount of sleep you require and tiredness usually indicates you need more!

However, there are a few exercises you can try to help determine this.

Techniques to Determine What Amount to Sleep is Right For You

I would firstly suggest keeping a sleep diary. Nothing fancy, just a space to record the time you go to bed and the time you wake. Alongside that, record your mood, how you felt and how your day went. This will help you analyse and decide your optimum hours of sleep. A sleep diary is probably the easiest method as it doesn’t require much change from your usual daily schedule.

However, if you find you have a break in your schedule, perhaps a week off or holiday try switching that alarm off. Music to your ears right! If you don’t have to be up at a specific time, just allow your body to wake naturally and record your results. You may notice that you sleep for longer in the first few days, but don’t worry – this is just your body regulating itself and catching up on those missed ZZZ’s.

After a week, not only will you have figured out the average amount of hours sleep your body requires, but you will begin to wake in the mornings feeling GREAT!

Enjoy, and bask in that newly found lease of energy!

So, now we know how to get to our golden number of hours, how do we integrate this into our routine and keep in there?

How To Get Better Sleep

There are a few things you can experiment with, some if not all of these are bound to work for you:

1. Keep it cool – Our bodies prefer to sleep in cooler temperatures.

2. Switch it off – The screens I’m taking about! At least 1 hour before bed should do it. That bright light has the same effect as sunlight, confusing your brain to stay awake rather than drift off to the land of nod.

3. Consistency is key – You will need to commit to your new schedule. The creature of habit in us will have you settling into your schedule and reaping the rewards quicker than A, B, ZZZ.

4. Morning exercise – If you can change your workout time to the morning, do so. It will give a great kick start to your day and allow you to wind down in the evenings without the pressure of an evening workout looming over your head.

5. Like it dark – Close the blinds and shut the door! The body prefers to sleep in darkness.

6. Zen out – Calm your mind before you go to bed. Trying to sleep with the stresses and worries of the day can disrupt your sleep. 5 – 10 minutes of meditation before bed cannot be recommended enough. It may be tricky to start with but once you get into it, you will be knocked out in no time and ultimately wake feeling refreshed, ready to seize the day.