Sleep deprivation affects almost everyone at some point in their life. Lack of sleep can impact on our general health and wellbeing making us feel irritable and even stressed. The ability to sleep better at night is not just about how many hours you sleep; it’s about the quality of sleep too. Many sleep studies state the average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. However, some people can function on 4-5 hours and others may sleep for 10 hours or more! The quality of sleep we get is probably more important than the quantity.
The Stages of Sleep
REM Sleep – includes rapid eye movement and dreaming
Non REM Sleep – Includes 4 stages of sleep including both light to deep sleep.
Deep sleep is thought to be the most beneficial sleep for making you feel rested.
Habits that Can Affect Sleep
Using electronic gadgets before bedtime – this can be phones, tablets and computers. Electronic devises can keep your brain buzzing and the blue light they emit can inhibit the melatonin, which tells your body its sleep time.
Caffeinated Drinks – Most of us rely on caffeinated drinks whether it’s coffee or energy drinks to keep us awake and focused in the day. If you are struggling with sleep its most definitely a good idea to cut back the amount of caffeine you consume. Have a cut-off point in the day to make sure it’s out of your system before you go to bed.
The temperature of your Room – Most people don’t take room temperature into consideration. However, if your bedroom is too cold or too warm this can affect your ability to sleep. Try to aim for a temperature of 65 to 72 degrees.
Eating the right food – Overeating or going to bed hungry can both lead to sleep issues. Eating the correct food is crucial to help you sleep better. Fast foods loaded with fat, protein or sugar can play havoc with your digestive system and prevent you from sleeping. Choose food high in melatonin to help induce sleep.
- Whole grains
- Seed & Nuts
- Green leafy vegetables
Tips to Help you Sleep Better Naturally
Keep to a Routine – It’s true! Our body clock needs to be consistent, try to go to bed and wake at the same time each day. Napping in the day or early evening can also prevent us from falling to sleep at bedtime.
Create a Calming Environment – Calm your mind, it’s not the right time to make plans! Have a relaxing soak in the bath, try reading a book with a glass of warm milk.
Relaxation techniques – try relaxing each muscle in your body, think about slowing your breathing to calm your body and mind. Yoga and meditation are also a great way to enable you to relax and can help with sleep issues.
Herbal Medicines for Sleep
Valerian has a long history of medicinal uses dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The oil from the root of the valerian plant is thought to help with sleep issues and symptoms of mild anxiety.
Chamomile tea is another great option to gently calm the body and help promote sleep. Try a cup of this wonderful tea about 30 minutes before bedtime. Chamomile can also help to reduce inflammation and also anxiety.
Lavender is the go to plant of choice for many and is thought to help with anxiety as well as sleep. In aromatherapy the oil can be used in the bath, mixed with oils and massaged into the skin; it can also be added to diffusers.
Lack of sleep is no fun; if you are experiencing on-going sleep issues always consult your doctor for their advice.