Sleep is arguably the most undervalued component of health in today’s society. Sleep is something the medical community is still in its infancy of understanding but there are certain things we do know about sleep. First and foremost, we know that humans can only survive a matter of days/weeks without it! Contrast that with food – we know humans can survive months without food provided they have water.
Sleep duration and sleep quality are the two metrics of most importance when looking at health outcomes.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with:
- Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased sympathetic nervous system activation (fight or flight)
- Increased levels of inflammation
- Decreased levels of the hormone leptin (this is the hormone that makes us feel full after eating)
The potential benefits of sleep include:
- Increased energy
- Improved concentration
- Greater capacity to learn
- Improved immune system function
- Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Improved memory
- Increased life expectancy
- Decreased risk of obesity
- Decreased stress levels
- Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Take this quick quiz and see what your sleep quality is like!
Do you wake up feeling refreshed?
Do you wake up at the same (within 30mins) every day without an alarm?
Do you fall asleep within 30mins?
0- never or rarely, 1- occasionally, 2- almost always
The higher the score the better!!
Tips to improve sleep quality:
- Create an environment of absolute darkness
- Reduce bright lights such as TVs, in the bedroom
- Eliminate smart phones from the bedroom
- Embrace morning light
- Make an effort to spend at least 10-15 minutes outdoors in the morning
- Create a bed time routine
- Put away smart devices 90mins before bed
- Set an alarm to remind you to go to bed!
- Repeat the same process every night to create the habit
- Avoid emotional stress/tension before bed
- Avoid discussions about stressful family natters/financial issues in the evening
- Avoid work emails 90mins before bed
- Try some breathing exercises to decrease tension nightly (3-4-5)
- Enjoy your caffeine before noon!