IS LACK OF SLEEP SABOTAGING YOUR HEALTH?
Sleep matters big time. How much you have and the quality of it, matters even more than you probably realise, and not getting enough is sabotaging your health.
We are living in the middle of a sleep deprivation epidemic. We not only have far too many distractions in our daily lives but we also live in a ‘sleep is for wimps’ culture that associates this natural and critical bodily function with laziness. Research shows that we are getting between one and two hours less sleep per night than we did sixty years ago. In the context of eight-hour sleep cycle, this is significant drop of up to 25 per cent.
Want to know how damaging this is? Keep on reading.
Sleep deprivation is a national epidemic. It is thought to cost the British economy about £40billion a year. 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were issued last year alone in the UK!
What happens when you do not sleep?
You already know that life does not look so great and you get irritable when you don’t sleep. The negative effects are pretty far reaching but I just want to draw your attention to a few things you may or may not know.
Lack of sleep creates high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you eat more and store more belly fat. Fact.
Your thyroid levels drop. Given the thyroid is the body’s internal motor, this is not a good thing. Everything works at a slower speed (think of a record player playing slow) and that includes the rate at which your body burns energy.
Insulin does not work as well, leading to blood sugar problems (cravings, lack of energy) and increased fat storage.
There’s also an increased risk of cancer (quadrupled), diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease – you may or may not be concerned with these right now, but I’m guessing dragging yourself through the day and gaining weight is not cool?
So let’s do something about it…
Here are my top tips for a good night’s sleep
1. Try to go to bed at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine.
2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable, not too hot, not too cold.
3. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
4. Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you are not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.
5. Try to take some exercise every day. There is evidence that regular exercise improves sleep. This includes stretching, yoga, pilates, walking, aerobic and resistance exercise etc.
6. Relax your brain – stress is one of the biggest factors behind poor sleep. Give yourself time to switch off from your day before trying to get to sleep. Write down any worries so they are out of your head. Avoid the news or scary thrillers! Try listening to relaxing music, reading a book or a mindfulness App like Headspace.
7. Avoid using blue screens (mobile, laptop, computer, tablet) at least 1 hour before going to bed.
8. Avoid alcohol – that glass or two of wine at night can help with de-stressing and getting you off to sleep initially, but it won't help when you wake up at 3am, dehydrated, with low blood sugar or an over-loaded liver! Alcohol also messes with your production of serotonin (the precursor to melatonin - sleep hormone).
9. Limit caffeine – caffeine is a stimulant, which is why it can cause the jitters, so avoid if you are struggling with sleep or have palpitations or anxiety.
10. Avoid refined carbs - if you are on the blood sugar roller coaster all day, it can continue into the night and wake you up. Avoid this by avoiding refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta, cakes, sugar, processed foods).
As well as these sleeping tips, you can also try the sleep App Pzizz. It is my favourites.
Or get your hormones tested for any imbalances that are causing your sleep issues.
Hope these sleeping tips help.
Contact me for a FREE Health review if you would like more personalised advice.