By Health and Wellbeing Speaker, Gretchen Lumsden
Sleep is important throughout life because when we sleep the body repairs itself and restores energy ready of the next day. Another fact that is of interest it is when the brain stores memories. Researchers have found that 7 -8 hours sleep is important for overall health and well- being. Adequate good quality sleep makes a big difference to the way we feel during the day because sleep affects our overall productivity and safety at work or home and also can affects our relationships as tiredness due to lack of quality sleep affects our emotional state and mood.
There are important stages that make up the normal sleep cycle.
Stage one and two are the early stages of sleep with a gradual descent into true sleep when the body then moves onto the third and fourth stage of sleep known as DEEP sleep. Then gradually lightens its sleep till it reaches the last stage called REM sleep [Rapid Eye Movement] Each cycle takes sixty to ninety minutes to complete and is then repeated till the person starts to wake in the morning. Towards the end of the night as morning is reached the REM stage becomes longer which is the stage we dream in, so quite often we think we have been dreaming all night which has not happened. Both Deep sleep and REM sleep are very important and if the body does not experience enough of these stages the body will spend more time in that stage the next night.
Sleep deprivation is defined as not enough sleep and not enough quality sleep i.e. Deep sleep and REM sleep. Human beings can tolerate some sleep deprivation but eventually lack of quality sleep will take its toll on the body. For people who experience long-term sleep loss i.e. shift workers it has been demonstrated that they have an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. In addition research has shown that after 17-18 hours without sleep a person’s performance is at the same level as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% and after 20 hours awake the performance is similar to that of a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. A sobering thought!!
While the body makes a chemical melatonin that helps us sleep we also can create an environment that helps us fall asleep.
Firstly, to increase melatonin each day spend a little time in the sun as melatonin is made with the help of the sun by the Pineal gland.
Other factors that will affect the quantity and quality of your sleep include Temperature We have disturbed sleep if we become too hot or too cold .
Light we are stimulated by light, we tend to sleep better in a darker environment. The modern life of TV, computers tablets and phones all electronics emitting light and stimulus are not helpful for restful sleep.
Try to eliminate electronic devices from the bedroom. The constant need to be in contact via social media does help us get the sleep we need.
Developing a routine just before going to bed is useful, for example locking up pulling down blinds, putting the dog out etc.
Having a hot bath or shower and hopping straight into bed can also be good.
Taking a malted milk drink to bed is useful as milk contains a protein that helps the body produce serotonin a calming neurotransmitter.
When in bed do some relaxation exercises to start the sleep process.
With a motto of Health is Wealth, Gretchen is in demand across Australia for her motivating, informative and enlightening sessions in this area. She has a proven track record in achieving real health and lifestyle behaviour changes in the workforce. For more information on Gretchen click HERE, or call us on 1300 55 64 69