" I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I am awake, you know?
Your mind is foggy
Lack of sleep (sleep deprivation) or prolonged wakefulness (sleep restriction) can result in reduced alertness and concentration, impaired judgement, and forgetfulness.
(Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance: Alhola et al: 2007)
Heightened stress, impaired regulation of emotions, low mood, and possible increase in risk of depression are signs that your sleep hygiene may need a check up.
(Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance: Dinges D. et al: 1997)
You get ill a lot
Sleep and the circadian rhythm wield a strong regulatory effect on the immune system through various mechanisms within your body. When you don't get enough sleep you have an increased risk of vulnerability to viruses and bacteria, increased illness, increased risk of heart disease and other inflammatory diseases.
(Sleep and Immune Function: Besedovsky et al: 2012)
You are struggling with your weight
If you want to lose weight, addressing your sleep hygiene is key. Lack of quality sleep has been shown to decrease glucose tolerance, disrupt your hormones and metabolism, including insulin sensitivity, hunger signalling, and your body's fullness cues.
This can all result in your consuming too much food, and also not being able to utilise it for energy effectively.
(Sleep and Obestiy: Becutti et al: 2013)
Your sex drive has dropped
While research is inconclusive, sleep deprivation has shown to impact sex drive in men through various mechanisms, with little or no impact on women. So if you find that your sex drive has dropped and you are just not in the mood for sex anymore, or that you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, this could be a contributing factor.
Your workouts feel way too hard
While research shown mixed results on how sleep restriction impacts your performance, a slower reaction time, low energy, reduced desire to exercise, and faster onset of fatigue are common with reduced sleep.
(Sleep and Athletic Performance: Fullagar et al: 2015)
But you can turn it around...
Get It In!
The recommended amount of sleep is 7 - 9 hours. While there are some who can function with slightly less. Research has show that for many less than 7 hours sleep can result in impaired health, mental and physical performance.
If you are not there yet, not to worry. Simply adding a further 30 minutes to your sleep and gradually building up until you get 7 - 9 hours sleep can help greatly.
Clear Your Mind
When your mind is busy with thoughts from the days activities or challenges you are currently facing, your brain is in the beta brain wave state. This can prevent our brain from slowing down and falling into a Theta brain wave state (common in deep meditation and sleep) or delta brain waves which are what we experience in deep, dreamless sleep.
Did you know that healing and regeneration are stimulated when we are in this state?
Having a "brain dump" before we go to bed, by writing (on paper or a journal) or recording voice notes so that we clear, or at least unburden our mind, can be a very powerful tool to promote healthy sleep.
Get To Bed
Going to sleep at a regular time before midnight can help to train your body when it's time for bed, and signal to release hormones that help to promote sleep.
Eat A Small or Medium Dinner
Have you ever noticed that when you have eaten a big meal and gone to bed, that while you may feel sleepy you struggle to fall to sleep?
Well, for one, now that your stomach is full with food it will be difficult to actually find a comfortable position, and second your stomach is actively digesting your food.
By having a small or medium sized dinner at least 1 -2 hours before you go to bed you can avoid feelings of discomfort and bloating.
If you consume a lot of fluid before you go to sleep you will wake up during the night for frequent bathroom breaks. This disruption to your sleep patterns can effect the quality of your sleep and how much you get.
Turn of Electronics
Remove your eyes from electronic devices at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before you go to sleep. The artificial light can interfere with your production of melatonin which ensures deep sleep. Using a blue screen filter on laptops and computers and mobile phones is also recommended.
Make Your Room Dark As Possible
Light pollution can impact your quality of deep sleep. To optimise deep sleep make your room dark as possible by switching off electronics that have lights, turn phones face down if left on, use black-out blinds or curtains where you can.
Never underestimate the power of a good nights sleep to boost your health, your relationships, mood, fitness, sex drive and weight.