01 Jun Tired all the time? Get some sleep.

So how did you sleep last night? What about the night before that? Did you go to bed before 10pm in a cool, darkened room and sleep without waking for 8 gorgeous hours? Did you wake naturally, feeling refreshed, energised, calm and positive? No? Really? Well this sadly is the reality for a very large number of people who in fact rarely experience this. Unfortunately the complaint of “I’m exhausted all the time” has become perfectly normal. How wrong is that!

I attended a talk the other night presented by the super brain and very awesome Dr Libby Weaver ‘Sort Your Sleep – Understanding Mood, Stress and Fatigue.’ It struck me just how many of us struggle with getting enough shut eye. Anyhow, it inspired me to share a bit about how absolutely central sleep is to good health.

Too busy to sleep.
No matter how tired we are sometimes, it feels like it’s impossible to get the sleep we need. Feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day, we look for something to cut. And sleep is an easy target. Ironically, the more tired we are, combined with the sleep we are too busy to have, the more we come unravelled…big time!

Burning out.
I can speak from personal experience when I recall a time where anything over 5 hours felt like a bonus. Waking to an alarm after minimal sleep would send my adrenalin pumping. Like a robot I would sit up, tie my laces and head out into the dark to get my exercise in before the rest of the world woke. I was totally knackered. Wired and tired! I am here to tell you that if you are getting by on minimal sleep and feel like you are coping okay then it is time to reassess. Burning out is not the necessary price for accomplishment and success.

Just getting by.
Sleep is often the first thing to go when we are busy. You think you can just ‘get by’ with five hours sleep and you’ll be fine. Right? WRONG! We need sleep to function well. It is absolutely vital for our mental, physical and emotional well-being. Getting good-quality sleep (and enough of it) should be as high on your priority list as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Why lack of sleep is bad for our health…REALLY BAD!
There is a wealth of evidence showing that too few zzzzs can have a significant and very negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Sleep is absolutely the key to better health. Sleep affects our physical and mental health enormously. A bad night’s sleep massively impacts alertness, concentration, memory, mood and productivity. It can also lower our immunity, contribute to weight gain, affect our hormone function and increase our risk of serious disease. Without enough sleep, we may well continue to function but we certainly do not continue to function well. Sleep is the key to feeling great and functioning at your personal best.

Today we know more about the science of sleep than ever before and how important it is to every aspect of our wellbeing. However, getting enough sleep seems harder and harder. It’s also the delusion that overwork, stress and burnout are the inevitable prices we must pay in order to succeed. There are some very real medical reasons why people may not be able to achieve deep restorative sleep, so if you feel like you have ‘tried everything’ then it may be a reason to consult your GP. For most of us though there is a great deal of hope around sorting our sleep.

Here are some suggestions for getting a great night’s sleep:

  • Sleep in a darkened room. This supports the body’s natural hormonal patterns to send you off to sleep and keep you that way.
  • Get to sleep by 10pm. Most of the body’s repair work is done prior to 3am so the more sleep you can get before this time, the fresher and more vital you will feel on waking.
  • Switch off! Computers, televisions and phones interfere with your natural sleep hormones and affect your sleep big time. Ideally have technology free time for at least an hour before bed.
  • Avoid doing work for 2 hours before bed and engaging your brain in this way.
  • Avoid stimulants in the afternoon. Eliminating caffeine after 12pm is a good idea.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol. Although alcohol is a sedative, it disrupts quality of sleep by causing us to wake when our blood sugar levels start to fall.
  • Keep the temperature in the bedroom at a comfortable level. Don’t overheat with piles of blankets and keep some fresh air coming into the room during the night.
  • Find a way to relax before bed. Restorative rituals like a bath, a cup of herbal tea, a book, some light stretching or even some slow deep breathing can help to clear your mind and enable you to fall into a deeper sleep.

So how much sleep do we need?
Seven to eight hours. Most experts consider this the optimal level of sleep and it should lead you to wake feeling rested and ready for the day ahead.

So it’s about time you got some serious shut eye.
It is so important to schedule maximum (quality) sleep time for yourself if you want to start feeling amazing from the inside out. Rather than trudging through your day, wake up feeling calm, clear and rested. There is a new kind of normal – just go to bed!

I would like to challenge you to find one thing you could do differently over the next week to set yourself up for a better nights sleep. I’d love to hear what works for you. Contact me here.

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