Sleep is the best medicine
As well as eating, sleep is an important part of connective tissue repair both mentally and physically.
Did you know?
- Lack of sleep can make you fat
- Having the TV, mobile phone and other electric devices in the bedroom hinder your sleep and ability to repair
- Poor sleep can cause heart problems and depression
- Good sleep keeps you looking younger
Restful sleep allows the body to regenerate. As any shift worker of new mum will tell you poor sleep habits include memory loss, confusion, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular problems and depression. Every system in our body is affected by the amount and quality of sleep.
Good sleep benefits will include:
- Weight loss
- Regulates the amount we eat and how our metabolism works
- Natural immunity to fight or flight
- Better coping mechanisms
- Increasing ability to learn new things
- Improving your memory, creativity and insightfulness
Sleep governs our “circadian rhythm” which is our body’s natural internal clock. Certain hormones in the day are produced at specific times of the day and night. Irregular hormones makes us feel tired in the day and reduces regeneration of cells in the night.
Signs you are not getting enough sleep:
- Wake up feeling tired – Are you tired and wired on waking and did not get to sleep till the early hours?
- Relying on stimulants such as caffeine and sugar to keep going – When the body is protein and fat deficient it will crave sugar. Craving sugar and caffeine is not the best way to keep going.
- Lapses in concentration and focus – when we are physically and mentally exhausted from lack of sleep we will make mistakes in the house, at work and driving. We will be operating as if we are intoxicated by alcohol as researchers have discovered. Sleep will also make us slower on reaction times. Studies show that it affects accuracy (be it physical or mental). Lack of sleep will make us sloppy and lead to poor decision making.
- You keep getting colds – it’s now medically proven that the immune system starts in the gut. A study showed that those with less sleep are more likely to catch a cold than those who have had several hours of sleep. Your white blood cells which fight infection become less efficient, making us less effective in fighting infection.
- You are hungry all the time – there are two things we should do, rest the body or feed the body . If we don’t get enough sleep, as this is common with shift workers, they will often gain weight. We want to eat more particularly craving carbohydrates.
- You are clumsy – you may drop things, have accidents and be particiularly moody with your family, children and work colleagues.
- You lose your sex drive – due to low energy and an increase in cortisol, you’ve just lost all desire.
- You feel depressed and down in the dumps – you find yourself in a low mood, and this can affect hormones making us weepy.
- Worsening medical problems – people who have high blood pressure or diabetes can experience no improvement in their medical condition. Diabetes can also make us less sensitive to insulin.
Of course there are medical conditions too which relate to poor sleep, those with pain and also depression. There is also a restless sleep called sleep apnea including snoring, waking up with a headache, feeling moody, congested and extremely tired in the day. Beauty is skin deep – a 2010 british medical study showed that tose women who had eight hours sleep were considered better looking than those who had five hours sleep. So we really do need our beauty sleep.
Ten top tips to better sleep
As you know I work with a lot of athletes, if you are an office worker you may have the same Type A personality and have the racing monkey mind which stops you from sleeping.
- Turn off all electromagnetic devices in the bedroom and don’t sleep with your phone, iPad, PC in the room. Reading is also a stimulant and will keep you awake. Even if you only read one chapter.
- Get to bed for 10pm at the latest and ideally you should be asleep for 10.30pm. Don’t use the 30 mins before you sleep to do chores or watch TV dramas.
- Take a hot bath, a good nights sleep is always preceded by a drop in body temperature. When you have a hot bath the temperature is raised artificially when you go back to your cooler bedroom it helps the body to be more receptive to adjusting its body temperature.
- Eat foods that contain tryptophan, this is convereted into serotonin by the body which helps you to sleep. This would be organic milk and bananas. Nuts such as brazil nuts and walnuts also induce sleep due to being packed with protein, potassium and selenium and can help make the body produce tryptophan and melatonin. Chickpeas, shrimp and lobster are rich sources of tryptophan also.
- When magnesium levels are low you won’t stay asleep so eat almonds .
- A salad for dinner can also help as lettuce leaves contain lactucarium, which has sedative properties and relaxes the brain. You can make lettuce tea by simmering a few lettuce leaves in hot water for 10-15 minutes before sleeping.
- Your body needs Vitamin B6 to help make melatonin and serotonin. Foods rich in B6 are fish like tuna, halibut and salmon as well as raw garlic and pistachio.
- Foods that raise the glycemic index also induce sleep, this is because after you eat them you have a natural spike in blood sugar and insulin levels and after this make you feel tired. Normally you would want steady blood sugars in the day to avpid mood and energy swings, but of you are looking to get rest, this could help.
- Camomile tea is another great sleep friend it contains glycogen, which release nerves and muscles that act as a mild sedative and also helps anxiety. A little bit of Manuka honey will raise tryptophan and insulin levels.
- Good carbs at night such as sweet potato, red thai brown rice and almonds can also induce sleep.
- Traditional Chinese medicine connected poor sleep to the kidneys. Acupuncture is thought to release meridian lines in the body. Indian ayuverdic medicine relates poor sleep to a vata imbalance. Vata regulates breathing and circulation. One type of treatment involves using oils on the head, hands and feet.
- Remember sugar, coffee and alcohol are stimulants and wont help you sleep. 2pm is the ideal cut off time for these products. Some people believe alcohol helps them sleep but it actually leads to a less regenerative slumber and the body does not rest well and you won’t feel good the next day. This is because alcohol disturbs the brain chemicals that help with deep sleep. What actually happens is that the brain waves increase from stage 1 to deep slow waves which are stage 4. Stage 4 is the deepest level of sleep helping us feel refreshed the next day. But as alcohol starts to wear off during the night we experience stage 5 which is the highest amount of brain activity. Although this stage is associated with dreaming, it is a lighter type of sleep which is not reflected at stage four – this can affect our mental performance the next day.
- Popping lavender oil on the pillow will also help you sleep .
- Get the room dark and quiet and have the same amount of hours sleep each night. By going to bed one night at 11pm and 3am the next night can induce jet lag which takes our body our of sync. This means that we cannot get ourself into stage 4 repair sleep. Get into the same routine each night and you will have optimal sleep and vitality.
Beware sleeping pills
I have been asked in the past to bring sleeping pills from India for people, which I have not.
- Beware they are addictive, both physically and psychologically
- They can leave you feeling drowsy or hung over the next day
- They may help you get to sleep but do not encourage a deep sleep needed for the regeneration of the bodys tissues
- There is some evidence to link sleeping tablets with premature death.
Remember putting a plaster over a cut does not neccesarily heal. You are not getting to the root of the problem by treating symptoms.
Read my Adrenal gland myth here:
“Eat, Move and be Healthy”- Paul Chek
“The Tiredness Cure”- Dr.Sohere Roked