For thousands of years the cycle of wake and sleep was dictated by the sun. The light enabled activity and safety and the darkness was a time to hide away, rest, recoup and recover from the hard work of the day. This is the basis of our human genome. We are wired to sleep several hours in the dark.
I love it when I go camping, when I follow the light of the sun and the darkness of the night. Going to bed when the sun goes down and rising when the sun comes up feels so good. My body feels more energetic, happy and healthy. But the reality of today’s world is far from the that of nature.
The internet, 24-hr TV on Netflix, and 60-hour work weeks have created a cultural norm of nocturnal living that is unrecognizable to our palaeolithic predecessors. If you are like most people, your body expects and requires more sleep than it gets.
According to Healthline the average adult should get between seven and eight hours sleep a night. But while the data shows that while two in three (68%) achieve this, one in three (32%) Australians do not.
There are some noticeable symptoms, like a foggy tired head, difficulty waking in the morning, dark circles under your eyes, and head slumping down whilst on the train on the way home from work. But it is the silent damage you’ll experience with sleep deprivation is a real killer – literally.
Our body uses sleep to rest and repair our tissues. Our brain requires sleep to process the information from the day. Critical sleep moves in cycles that involve hormone balancing that affects everything from your energy and moods to your metabolism and ability to regulate your body weight. Sleep deprivation is actually a predictor of weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
Healthy sleep patterns contain complete sleep cycles. Your brain goes through different sleep phases when you rest. REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) involves dreaming; non-REM sleep is the deepest and most critical phase of sleep. This is the time that your most vital repair and recharge takes place. The more complete sleep cycles you experience, the better. This means more time in bed and preferably earlier to fit with the circadian rhythm (set by the light of the sun)
Getting seven plus hours of quality has been shown to increase longevity.
Quality Sleep Hints:
- Set a bedtime. Try stick to that regular time with only a 15 minute variation either side. Regularity of bedtime can help increase sleep quality.
- As the bedtime becomes more and more regular bring the time forward by 15 minutes each week or fortnight until you are getting a minimum of 7 hours sleep (or more) per night.
- Create a bedroom sanctuary.
- A comfortable bed
- Dark room
- Supportive pillow
- Comfortable pajamas
- Cool room temperature
- No technology or blue/bright white lights (and don’t use at least an hour before bed either with using blue-blocker glasses)
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed (or at all, if possible)
- Leave 3 hours after dinner before bed
Watch this clip from a Sleep expert for his advice on creating good sleeping habits
Sleep tight… Don’t let the bed bugs bite.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Anthea Holder
(Chiropractor and Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)