April 11, 2019
Getting a good night’s sleep, in the right kind of sleep environment, promotes a daily recovery state for our bodies and minds.
Did you realise that we are able to live five times as long without food as we are without sleep?
Sleep reduction decreases the efficiency of our brains to manage neurotoxic waste. As studies continue we are seeing a strong association between brain toxicity and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Huntingdon’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia. Research has also shown consistent links between sleep deprivation and health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and reduction in the effectiveness of our immune system.
During sleep, hormones are released to carry out important restorative functions such as muscle growth, tissue repair and protein synthesis. As a result, consistently gaining a full night’s sleep can improve recovery after exercise, reduce rehabilitation time after injury. There is also data to suggest that physical performance can improve too, with studies demonstrating significant improvements in strength, power and even co-ordination, all important factors in reducing mistakes and boosting productivity!
In contrast the accumulation of fatigue has been found to increase recovery times and susceptibility to injury, whilst impairing judgment, decision-making skills and reaction speeds all with potential to decrease productivity.
In the UK, we spend roughly a third of our lives in bed. So making sure that we create the right environment for sleep is hugely important.
- Ditch the screens, or at least apply a blue light filter (there are many apps available) at least an hour before bed.
- Ditch the notifications. Block any intrusions from your devices from 9pm.
- Ditch the caffeine. Did you know the caffeine from a cup of coffee drunk at 12 mid – day is still in your system at 10pm!
- Keep your room as dark and as cool as possible between 18-22 C
- Decrease noise or use a white noise generator such as a fan.
Sleep hygiene is an Americanism but basically means establishing a routine with consistent bed times, as staying up late and sleeping in at weekends can disrupt sleep patterns in the week. Aim for a relaxed routine before bed, visualise having a good night’s sleep but do not try to force yourself to sleep as research proves this actually raise stress hormones that prevent sleep! Try to set aside 30 minutes to write down any worries or tasks to return to in the morning, learn progressive relaxation or meditation techniques and give your body and brain a chance to slow down and prepare for sleep.
Just as caffeine and nicotine are stimulants some foods are more sedative in nature, you could try:-
- Vitamin B6 rich fish such as halibut, tuna and salmon help with the production of melatonin
(a sleep inducing hormone triggered by darkness) as do bananas, chickpeas and fortified cereals.
- A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that when healthy sleepers who ate a carbohydrate rich supper of veggies over jasmine rice fall asleep significantly faster than if the meal contained lower glycaemic index (GI) long grain rice.
The theory being that the higher GI content of jasmine rice stimulated a higher production of insulin which increased the production of sleep inducing tryptophans.
- Also a calcium deficiency may interfere with the ability to fall asleep so eat plenty of green leafy vegetables such as kale.
- Increase your uptake of magnesium by eating bulgar, barley and other whole grains. This helps you to stay asleep and may also help alleviate symptoms of restless legs and cramp.
- Finally tart cherry juice has been demonstrated to help chronic insomniacs gain some relief of their insomnia by drinking 2 glasses a day.
Debbie Martin is a Director of BWT Physio and is an experienced practitioner in corporate environments. She is available to speak to your employees on all aspects of health and well-being with the emphasis on ‘You can’t help yourself if you don’t know what to do!’
You are welcome to call 01202 749514 to discuss your requirements.