I’m attempting to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ of a Holistic Lifestyle Coach at the moment by getting to bed on time.For lots of reasons I’ve got a little out of synch over the past few weeks and need to get a grip……..so I have precisely twenty three minutes to write todays blog before retiring for the night, and I can’t wait.Sleep is KEY to a healthy mind and body. Scrimp on it and you may find you’re suffering from lots of minor health ailments from headaches and brain fog to frequent colds and sore throats.
Sleep along with nutrition and exercise is a basic human need and so very important for your health.
As a nation we don’t sleep and much of this can be put down to our twenty four seven daylight – artificial lighting has an awful lot to answer for. Cavemen wouldn’t have been up partying until 2am, they slept when the daylight ended – in Winter. In Summer however they would have gone to bed later due to the longer days. Today, for our body’s, every day is a summer day and it’s quite frankly confusing us.
Because as mammals we are hard wired to store fat when exposed to long days and then to sleep (or at least starve) for a while. But we don’t sleep and we don’t starve either, certainly not for carbs. That’s one of the reasons why we’re fat and we’re getting fatter as a nation. It’s endless August!!
This all boils down to our circadian rythmns (sleep/wake cycle), and key to this rythmn is the hormone cortisol.
Basically: Light = Sunshine = Cortisol release = Daytime activities
If we follow our natural sleep/wake cycle cortisol decreases in the afternoon and we start winding down as the sun sets and should fall asleep by 10pm ish.
Ideally, to optimise your bodys physical repair cycle you need to be all tucked up by 10pm, 10.30pm at the latest. Yes I know, by the time you’ve got the kids to bed it’s already 9pm so it doesn’t leave much ‘me time’, and then sleep for eight hours (ha, ha with three kids I can’t remember the last time I had a full nights sleep).
Mental repair happens between 2am and 6am, so good to get this in if you have any stresses or worries.
But guess what? – if you consume CRAP foods in the evening (caffeine/refined/alcohol/processed) this will stimulate your symathetic nervous system and trigger more cortisol to be released, so waking you up! Cortisol being the activating hormone thats released in response to stress.
Watching TV, using the computer, and doing tough exercise routines will all give the same response, so bang goes your flicking through the Sky channels until the wee hours!
Go to bed late after these activities and a few alcoholic drinks and you body’s well out of synch for the night, and of course the following morning. Cortisol levels ,believe it or not, can be responsible for a lack of enthusiasm for breakfast time. And we all know how important breakfast is.
So do yourself (your mind and your body) a big, big favour and schedule in several early nights this week, and see how much better you feel for it. You will, I can guarantee it.
Here are some tips to get you in the mood for sleep : (anyone got any others which may be beneficial, please feel free to comment)
Plan a time for sleep and stick to it
Exercise gently in the evening
Switch off the TV well before bed time.
Ditto for computers (whoops I’m running out of time here…)
Take a warm bath
Avoid caffeine for 6 hours prior to bed
Eat right for your Metabolic Type – helps avoid blood sugar dips etc.
Sleep until sunlight (try a LUMIE alarm clock, this will wake you up gradually as it mimicks sunlight. Go to www.Lumie.co.uk)
Have a low bedroom temperature
Keep hydrated – drink lots of water and herbal teas
Don’t take prescribed sleeping pills long term, they will have several side effects
Drink chamomile/valerian tea, both are relaxants
Try a meditation CD or relaxing music CD – I find this really helps!
Eat sleepy foods, foods containing tryptophan ie. bananas/turkey/milk
And above all RELAX! If you’re all ‘het up’ when you get into bed you won’t be able to drift off.
Whoops,I’m two minutes over, off I go!! Nite,nite.RX
TODAY’S TIP : Read LIGHTS OUT – Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S.Wiley. It’s a great book, and makes everything crystal clear.