How good is your sleep?
Do you get 7-8 hours per night or do you survive on 4-5 hours?
Research tells us we need at least 6-9 hours per night for our bodies to properly recharge. Sleep is important but is often the first thing that is sacrificed in our busy daily schedules. Sometimes this is even worn as a badge of pride as this is a measure of our hectic schedules. Thomas Edison and Margaret Thatcher both claimed to survive on 4-5 hours of sleep per night.(Robson, 2019.)
Why do we need more than 4-5 hours of quality sleep per night? The brain cycles through many phases of sleep each night sending brain waves to many different regions and allowing rest and repair to happen. If we don’t sleep enough then we don’t get through these quality sleep phases.
Rapid eye movement (REM) (the rhythm that is fairly fast) is the phase we are most likely to dream. At a certain point our eyes cease to move, our dreams fade and the rhythm of the brain waves drops to less than one ‘beat’ a second. This is the point at which we enter our deepest, most unresponsive state of unconsciousness called ‘slow-wave sleep’.
Slow wave sleep is essential for the brain’s maintenance as it allows the regions of our brain to pass short term memories to long term storage. This helps us to remember what we have learnt. These slow waves also trigger the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid and flush out debris that can potentially cause neural damage. A dip in the stress hormone cortisol and a rejuvenated immune systems are also due to these slow waves.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to get the sleep you need in order to wake feeling refreshed and it is the most common sleep complaint. It often takes the form of sleep-maintenance insomnia, that is, difficulty staying asleep, and in particular, waking too early and struggling to get back to sleep. Like difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night, called sleep-onset insomnia, sleep-maintenance insomnia is more common in women than in men.(Publishing, 2019.) (Roth, 2007)
Sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia can cause detrimental effects on your health. Depression, obesity, type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, pain, sleep apnoea, impaired memory and decision making can all be effected by poor sleep.
Sleep Onset Insomnia
To encourage a good night’s sleep, our body’s own clock, known as our circadian rhythm must be regulated. Routine is the key to regulating our sleeping patterns. Making a regular time to go to bed each night and getting up at the same time each morning, (regardless of how long you actually slept for) will assist to correct your sleep over time. Other key factors to assist in regulating your circadian rhythm include:
- Avoid napping during the day (if necessary, maximum of 15minutes)
- Avoid sleeping in/oversleeping
- If sleep does not occur after 15-20 minutes of trying to fall asleep, get up and go to another room to read or do another activity you enjoy to stimulate your mind until you start to feel tired again.
It is important to allow time at the end of the day to ‘wind down’ before bed to promote relaxation & sleep. 30-60 minutes is all you need. This may involve:
- Running yourself a warm bath. This has been shown to promote falling asleep & staying asleep. You may add essential oils such as lavender or scented candles to further promote relaxation
- Read a book
- Have a herbal tea (Buy Night time tea)
- Have a kind conversation with friend or loved-one
- Meditate/ Deep breathing exercises
Sleep maintenance insomnia
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Reserve it for sleep, intimacy, and restful activities such as meditation and reading for pleasure.
- Keep it cool, dark, and quiet.
- To block out noises, use a fan or other appliance that produces a steady “white noise” as this will help with the sleep rhythm.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable.
- Don’t watch the clock – remove electronics from your bedside table or put across the room if you need it for the alarm.
What causes insomnia?
There are many reasons for this but may include one or a combination of the following:
- Low protein diet
- Hormonal imbalance
- Unhappy liver
- Gut dysregulation – malabsorption and assimilation
- Electromagnetic field (EMF) – over exposure leading to hormonal disruptions.
So if you are struggling with sleep quality and want to ensure you are getting enough to restore your brain and body function then book in for a consult with me. We will endeavour to find the reason your sleep pattern is not what it should be.
Publishing, H. H. (2019). Too early to get up, too late to get back to sleep. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from Harvard Health website: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/too-early-to-get-up-too-late-to-get-back-to-sleep
Robson, D. (2019). How we could sleep better – in less time. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191122-how-to-sleep-better
Roth, T. (2007). Insomnia: Deﬁnition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 3(5), 4.
This article was written by Jan Caton who holds a Bachelor of Health Science. Jan is the Director of Magnolia Apothecary and a practicing Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist, based in the Yarra Ranges and Boronia.