We spend 24 years of our lifetime sleeping, so it better be important.
After one night of sleep deprivation you are more likely to make poor food choices, experience premature ageing and dull skin, have an accident, catch a cold, lose brain tissue, be 60% more emotional and have a shorter attention span. Not good!
Many of my clients find sleep a challenge, because they are so busy and they find it hard to not only get to sleep, but then stay in a deep sleep.
If this sounds familiar, then read on, because I’m sharing my top three tips for relaxing the mind and body so you can fall asleep with ease.
When we start to sleep our core temperature drops. By having a hot shower before bed, then cooling quickly, your body will realise it is time to go to sleep. This is a similar principle as exercise. I have had people come to me in tears the day after their session not because their muscles are aching, but because it has been the first time in twenty years they have been able to go to sleep and stay asleep without any medication.
Although mindless TV or catching up on the latest news on Facebook may feel like you’re switching off, this is not the case. In fact, your brain interprets the light as daytime so will try and keep you awake. The best thing you can do is read. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on topics from politics to current events. Aside from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge, reading daily has also been shown to reduce stress and improve memory. One study revealed that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.
A nap might not always practical, but can be beneficial in making up on sleep debt. Although Winston Churchill would only sleep 3-4 hours a night, his afternoon power nap was non-negotiable.
A Japanese study looked at what was the best solution in overcoming that late afternoon lull. The subjects were engaged with computer tasks for 15 minutes before each intervention and were monitored for 60 minutes after. The subjects were divided into 5 groups:
They found coffee + 15 min nap was most effective treatment. It takes around 20 minutes for caffeine to reach our brain so this strategy tends to make a lot of sense when it comes to overcoming fatigue, as naps that last for longer than 20 minutes start to move you into deep sleep brain waves and can leave you with sleep inertia, groggy feeling.