- Posted by Marcelle Crinean
- On 2nd April 2018
How much better would your life be if you could experience a deep and restorative night’s sleep every night, and bounce out of bed feeling refreshed, energised, and ready to take on the day?
If you’re one of the growing number of people having trouble sleeping (difficulty falling asleep, or waking up either during the night or too early in the morning) then you already know how debilitating it can be.
Sleep is in the news. Over the last few months there’s been a Nobel prize awarded to scientists focusing on circadian rhythm & the important of regular sleep patterns, and increased media attention on the “epidemic” of sleep disorders and the consequences of sleep-loss on our physical and mental health – including depression, inability to cope with stress, increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease & stroke, among other health problems. Sleep matters.
Circadian rhythm is otherwise known as our ‘internal body clock’. This helps regulate when we feel awake or asleep, as well as synchronising other biological functions, such as metabolism and hormone production, to the 24-hour cycle of light and darkness.
This body clock is affected by environmental cues, the most important of which is daylight. Darkness causes the body’s master clock to stimulate production of melatonin, a hormone causing drowsiness, whilst light shuts it down. This is why most of us tend to sleep during the hours of darkness and awake during daylight hours.
Unfortunately, modern lifestyles are causing disruption to our body clocks. Not enough light during the day, too much light from phones/TVs at night, etc. are contributing to increasing numbers of people struggling with their sleep. Night-shift work, or changing time zone can have the same effect, insofar as disrupting our biological clock makes us feel sleepy when we should feel awake, and vice versa.
Stress also impacts quality of sleep. Busy lives, work, family pressures, financial worries, etc. all take their toll. We find ourselves tossing and turning at night, unable to switch off our brains and struggling to sleep. Unfortunately, this cycle can only continue to get worse: the less we sleep at night, the more our body boosts its levels of stress hormones. And because we’re feeling stressed, we find it harder to fall asleep, and so on.
What helps a good night’s sleep?
Circadian rhythm works best with regular sleep patterns, such as going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (including weekends). Adequate exposure to sunlight during the day (especially in the morning) and sleeping in complete darkness will help with melatonin production. Minimising stress is also crucial.
Sleep matters. Getting quality sleep is as, if not more, important than quantity. Feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep has a lot to do with your REM (rapid eye movement) cycle, the dream phase & restorative part of our sleep. The key is to access that state as quickly as possible. To learn more, please contact me.