Sleep Still Matters

Why sleep matters now:

Sleep is where the individual war is really won. You may not have heard of cytokines before but during your sleep, you are getting a boost which helps regulate immunity, inflammation and hematopoiesis (production of the cellular components of the blood). Cytokines are like the secret special forces that are there to defend our bodies.

The right quality and quantity of sleep:

  • enables physical recovery
  • enhance mental recovery and overall brain function
  • regulates hormones and mood
  • improves immune response and recovery
  • minimizes inflammation and associated issues

How are you sleeping right now? One of the first things to go for many of us when we’re out of routine, feeling stressed or anxious, maybe not moving as much or with the same intensity as we once were is sleep.

So now and in the future how do you set yourself up for restorative sleep that is the foundation for good mental and physical wellbeing.

Ideal internal environment

We are aiming to achieve the ideal internal environment in our body to achieve restful sleep. i.e. body temperature half a degree cooler, our sleep hormones like melatonin and our human growth hormone high, and our stress hormones nice and low. Some key principles to help achieve this are:

Practice good sleep hygiene

•    Make sure the room is Dark, Cool and Quiet
•    Keep bedtimes and wakes times as regular as possible

Have a good psychological routine

•    Use routine and cues – shower, lights dim etc. read
•    Wind down prior to bed 
•    Set aside worry time and write things down if your mind starts racing once you get into bed
•    Use the bed for sleep and sex and nothing else so it has a positive place in your mind
•    Get out of bed if you are tossing/turning so don’t begin to develop a negative association with being in bed
•    Don’t clock watch! It only makes things worse. Try to imagine it’s whatever time you want it to be.

Have a good physical routine.

•    Avoiding screens too close to bedtime– allow the brain to switch off and wind down.
•    Avoid stimulants – caffeine, nicotine etc. five-eight hours before bed to keep cortisol levels low.
•    Avoid exercise too close to bed – endorphins can keep us awake!
•    Avoid alcohol – two hours before bedtime as it shallows the quality of our sleep.
•    Avoid food too close to bedtime – sleep is a time to recover and repair – not to digest large meals! 

Why sleep matters for your future

There’s plenty of well-documented evidence to suggest your risk of all kinds of health issues and disease are increased significantly simply by not getting the right type of sleep often enough. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Bowel and other inflammatory diseases
  • Weight gain and overall health

As much as it might be a challenge with all that’s going in the world right now, getting good sleep now, is so important for making sure you are physically and mentally coping well when things turn around.

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