Adequate sleep on a regular basis is as essential to well-being as the air we breathe. Proper rest is necessary for maintaining cognitive sharpness, emotional balance and the efficient functioning of all our physical systems.
Wake up refreshed, ready for new day.
Overall improved sense of wellbeing.
Increased mental awareness, concentration, focus.
Increased resilience and immunity.
Body energized and alert; less potential for accidents.
Reduced risk of illness, disease and ageing.
Conversely, inadequate sleep can be highly detrimental to health. Sleeplessness or insomnia is more common than many people realize. Disturbed sleep stems most commonly from stress. Stress accumulates during the day, propelling many of our emotions into overload and we often take it to bed with us at night, tossing and turning or not sleeping at all.
How does sleep deprivation make you gain weight?
1. Restricted sleep is thought to increase the hormone ghrelin (which makes you want to eat) and decrease leptin levels (the hormone that tells you to stop eating).
2. Sleep restriction is also thought to increase cortisol release: a stress hormone.
3. People, who stay awake longer are more likely to snack excessively and possibly on the wrong foods.
4. Sleep deprivation may also alter the body’s ability to manage body temperature, which can result in lowered energy expenditure and causing easier weight gain.
5. Inadequate hours or fragmented sleep contribute to worsening atherosclerosis which increases the risk for heart attack, increases high blood pressure and risk for diabetes.
6. In fact, lack of sleep is associated with the development of many mental health disorders which may impact eating and exercise patterns.
How to combat sleep deprivation using the FAB Quotient
The FAB Quotient is a research backed, practical framework outlining three essential dimensions which together drive wellbeing; performance and happiness. To tackle sleep deprivation it helps to look at all three dimensions: Fuel (how you eat); Activate (How you move) and Behave (How you manage stress, your own behaviours and how you interact with others).
Stress, stimulants like caffeine and sugar raises the activity of the two wakefulness adrenal hormones: adrenalin and cortisol. Raised cortisol levels at night suppress the production of growth hormones, essential for daily tissue repair, and this effectively speeds up the ageing process.
Alcohol, although classified as a relaxant precisely because it promotes a hormone called GABA, has a stimulatory after-effect, promoting anxiety as it can lead to rebound low levels of GABA. To bring your brain chemistry back into balance, it’s better to avoid alcohol, rather than depending on it to get you to sleep.
Calming Minerals – A lack of calcium and especially magnesium can trigger or exacerbate sleep difficulties because they work together to calm the body and help relax nerves and muscles, thus reducing cramps and twitches. Magnesium levels may well be low if you are particularly stressed or consume too much sugar. Your diet is more likely to be low in magnesium than calcium so make sure you are eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as seeds, nuts, green vegetables, wholegrains and seafood. Some people find it helpful to supplement 500mg of calcium and 300mg of magnesium at bedtime.
Doing regular exercise also helps you sleep better. This may be because exercise helps burn off excess adrenalin and generally helps stabilise blood sugar, which regulate energy levels. Avoid exercise 3-4 hours before sleeping unless it is stretch based such as pilates or gentle yoga.
The HeartMath Institute researchers say stress creates incoherence in our heart rhythms, and when the heart is out of sync normal sleep patterns can be disrupted.
Coherence, also known as heart-rhythm coherence, is a state of mental, emotional and physical synchronization and balance. Coherence not only helps us renew and sustain energy, but also is linked to significantly less fatigue and exhaustion, improved mental abilities and better sleep.
The Quick Coherence® Technique from HeartMath may help you increase heart-rhythm coherence, which is vital for regular, beneficial sleep. Practice these simple steps a few times daily, especially in the morning and before bed.
Step 1. Heart-Focus Breathing
Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual.
Step 2. Activate a Positive Feeling
Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life.
For many people with chronic sleep issues, simple lifestyle changes can help. These good habits are known as “sleep hygiene”.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Make sure you are comfortable – get the right linen and wear sleeping garments that create ease for you.
Replace a worn-out or uncomfortable mattress.
Limit the time you spend in bed. Turn-in only when you are sleepy. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes or if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep within that amount of time, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
A combination of these bedtime habits may help you to drift off to dreamland and score the deep rest that your body and mind not only deserve, but also desperately need.