How well are you sleeping?
If you didn’t sleep well last night you may be wondering why? Well, it could have been caused by eating too late, drinking too much caffeine or having to endure the incessant noise of a car alarm. However, poor quality sleep can also be caused by stress, anxiety or depression.
We can struggle to get to sleep, tossing and turning as the hours pass; consequently we often over-analyse events or imagine worst case scenarios; and even if we do initially fall asleep we may then wake up several times throughout the night and without always managing to get back to sleep. Alternatively, we may be able to get to sleep at our normal time but then wake up far too early in the morning.
What are the consequences of not sleeping well?
So, whatever sleep disturbance pattern you might be experiencing the consequences of a lack of sleep are real:
- reduced concentration and focus
- poor physical coordination
- lack of patience
- lowered immune system
- weight gain
- loss of interest in hobbies
- compromised physical recovery times
- reduced performance in sport and work
How much sleep do we need?
It is estimated that most of us need 6-8 hours of sleep but, it is not only the duration but also the quality of our sleep that’s important.
We sleep in cycles and each of the 5-6 cycles we go through has several stages within it :
- REM – the dream state
- Deep – restorative sleep
What is REM sleep?
REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is important as it is during this phase of each cycle that we emotionally process the events of the day and anything that is bothering us. So, REM can be thought of as a way of emptying our internal stress tank in order to help us begin the next day feeling more optimistic and positive.
What is light sleep?
During the light sleep cycle our breathing and heartbeat begin to slow down, and our muscles being to relax. In addition, this is when our body temperature decreases, and we also have much less brain wave activity.
What is deep sleep?
Deep sleep is restorative sleep and is what we need for physical rest, muscle and tissue repair and recovery. And, our heart rate, breathing and body temperature drop to their lowest levels. As a result, sleep disturbances will cause poor quality sleep cycles and consequently, the vicious cycle of increased tiredness and continued sleep disturbance begins.
How can we improve our sleep?
Luckily, we can often improve our sleep by making small changes such as the ones below;
- Sleep quality can be improved by making some simple changes
- Don’t watch tv in bed as this results in over-stimulation of the brain
- Do make a list of jobs you need to do the next day, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them.
- Don’t drink caffeine after midday as unlike herbal teas and water, its effects can continue for up to 12 hours
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before going to bed
- Listen to a meditation or relaxation mp3 to help you drift off
- Don’t rely on alcohol to help you sleep as it impairs sleep quality
- Take steps if needed, to reduce stress and anxiety
- Get help with depression if necessary
- Last but not least, establish a regular bedtime and get up time and avoid napping
Please feel free to share this with anyone who would find this helpful
Yvonne Morgan – Clinical Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist
www.yvonne-morgan.co.uk 07899 625156