Did you know that humans are the only mammals that override the need to sleep?  I have been blessed with being a great sleeper despite call schedules, babies and teens, snoring and pets. A colleague once told me that I had Short Sleep Syndrome, less than 6 hours and still normal daytime function. I think it’s more intentional than just genetics and good luck. I have had to train myself to fall asleep quickly and soundly. I really value my sleep and I turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mrs Hyde if life is too demanding past 10:30pm. Sleep is the great healer for our brains, our metabolism and you guessed it, our immune system. 

People who sleep well have…

  • Lower blood pressure and less cardiac disease
  • Healthier body weight
  • Better stress coping functions
  • Increased resistance to infections
  • Improved brain function for years of age
  • Reduced levels of inflammation
  • Less sadness and anxiety
Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

Sleep Tips based on Science

  • Make your room dark or wear a night mask
    • Melatonin is produced when there is darkness. Even screen lights can reduce your melatonin production. Melatonin supplements have been proven to increase the quality of your sleep cycles
  • Stick to a Wake-Sleep cycle routine
    • Better to get up and start moving than stay in bed for the day. When you lie down your sleep activation centre is triggered in your brain so lie when you want to sleep and stay upright when you don’t want to sleep. 
  • Watch what and when you eat and drink
    • Caffeine, sugar, carbs and nicotine will keep you awake, they increase Cortisol levels. Try to reduce quantities and time them early in the day.
    • Although many feel initial relaxation with a nightcap, alcohol interferes with your deep sleep cycles (REM)
  • Let go of all your thoughts
    • Write down your to-do’s or worries and then forget them until morning
    • Think calm and serene thoughts, even soft music or a sound machine. 
    • Your brain needs a psychological trigger to shift into sleep mode

If you find that the uncertainty of our current situation is keeping you up night or causing you to wake with worry, that’s a common reaction. You’ve probably experienced it before when you had an early plane to catch, an exam to do or a job interview. Recruit those same skills that you have used before and get back to your sleep routine. Worrying at night will not accomplish anything and it will weaken your fortitude. Look forward to the stillness of the night and get comfy for a little hibernation. Spring will come. 

Resources:

Great website and it’s all about sleep – Sleep Foundation

Here’s an article about the 10 Best Sleep Apps

Try this for some pre-sleep relaxation, zone down. 

Cover Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *