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February 8, 2015

Sleep

February is upon us and as one of the coldest months it tends to be a time we continue to hibernate! With this in mind and also because it is one of my favourite subjects (and things to do!), I thought we could look at sleep this month. Sleep in our culture has been pushed to the back of things that are important, but it is one of the most essential parts of our day as it is the time for our bodies to relax, repair and rejuvenate.

As sleep is such a huge topic, I have decided to list my tips for getting a good night’s sleep and some of the reasons why they are important. I would love to hear your thoughts on sleep and any questions you have!

  1.  The room you sleep in should be dark and by dark I mean you should not be able to see the outline of furniture in the room. I had all my curtains black out lined so that I keep as much light out as possible (from street lights and the moon), this made a huge difference to my quality of sleep.
  2. Try to get to bed by 10/10:30pm and get 8 hours sleep, your body needs this time to repair physically (10pm to 2am) and mentally (2am to 6am). I believe most of us suffer from a huge amount of sleep debt which means we do not function at our best each day and this can lead to illness and depression.
  3. Stop watching tv, playing with computers or phones at least an hour before you go to bed preferably 2 and turn the lights down low or use candles. Light entering your body either through the eyes or our skin stimulates us into thinking it is daytime (i.e. our body releases the hormone cortisol) which you do not want when you are trying to sleep!
  4. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar and nicotine after lunch. Caffeine for instance has a half-life of 6 hours in our body so anything you consume after lunch will still be in your system at bedtime.
  5.  All electronic devices should be off and unplugged in your bedroom as the electromagnetic frequencies they emit can disrupt your sleep/wake cycle. Turn off every device you can and yes that does include your mobile phone! I just have an alarm clock (because otherwise I would never get out of bed!) that I cover up the front of, to keep light in my room to a minimum.
  6.  Have a bedtime routine, your body is happier when it is in a routine and knows what to expect. My routine before bed is generally to stop whatever I am doing at 9pm and tidy up. I then get ready for bed and read for a while, my system knows the score and I am mostly asleep by 10pm. What routine would work best for you?

I do appreciate everyone is different and that some people need slightly more or slightly less sleep (also considering the demanding schedules we ask of ourselves) but all the research points to us needing about 8 hours of sleep to function at our best, so I suggest giving some of the ideas above a go and seeing if they make a difference to how you feel during the day.

For more help with your lifestyle choices, more information about the therapies I offer or to book an appointment please call me on 07814 019180, email wellbeing@familymcp.com or go to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lorimcphersonwellbeing

Health and happiness

Lori

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