Love your sleep

Good sleep is vital to your wellbeing.  Sleep allows your brain to do its 'housekeeping' free from the distractions of sensory perception etc.  It is during sleep that memories are 'stored' and learning consolidated.  Growth hormone is released and in adults this maintains muscle mass and bone tissue.  When sleep is inadequate, more stress hormone, cortisol is released and this can break down collagen resulting in wrinkles.  No wonder they call it 'beauty sleep'!!
Of course, stress hormones do more than give you a few wrinkles.  Stress is associated with many diseases such as cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, gasto-intestinal problems such as IBS, insulin resistance and even osteoporosis since it accelerates bone breakdown.  Lack of sleep also enhances the inflammatory response which may explain the link to some types of arthritis.
Did you know that lack of sleep can also make you put on weight?  This is all because of the balance between two proteins that regulate appetite.  Ghrelin stimulates hunger while leptin gives rise to feeling of satiety.  Lack of sleep elevates ghrelin and suppresses leptin leading to cravings especially for fats and carbohydrates.
We all know how even one poor night's sleep can make us feel 'off colour', headachy, lethargic, irritable but for some people insomnia can be a real problem.  Don't panic, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep.
Firstly, see you doctor to check there is no medical cause for your lack of sleep.  Menopause can play havoc with sleep for instance, sleep apnoea can leave you feeling unrefreshed by sleep as can chronic fatigue.  Asthma, prostrate problems and acid reflux also affect sleep. If you are on medications check to see if they are affecting your sleep.  Your doctor might be able change them.
If there is no medical cause for your sleep problems you might want to try some of the following;- 
  • Take steps to reduce stress.  Try yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques. You could try my stress series on YouTube Channel Playlist or my latest video on 'How Yoga Boosts Health-Better Sleep' Write down any concerns, 'to do'lists and mentally label these 'tomorrow' then clear them from your mind.  BUT avoid rigorous exercise (including yoga deep backbends and sun salutations) for at least four hours before bed.
  • Try to connect with nature if only for a few minutes each day as this can help set your body clock.
  • Switch off tvs and computers about an hour before bedtime.  Try not to have electronic equipment in your bedroom.  Your mobile should be on silent and as far away from the bed as possible.
  • Stick to regular sleep times where possible.
  • Calamine tea is a great bedtime drink as is warm soya milk.  Soya milk is rich in tryptophan which aids sleep.  Avoid caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate after 3pm. Even sugar is a stimulant so avoid this also.
  • Make sure your bedroom is really dark as even a little light can disturb sleep.  Your bedroom should also be neither too hot nor too cold.  
  • A few drops of lavender on your pillow will help soothe you to sleep (works for me!!!).
If you really can't sleep, get up, have a drink, read for a while then try again,
Enjoy restoring, refreshing, renewing sleeps.
Janet x

On Flexiladiesyoga, there is a video 'How Yoga Boosts Health-Better Sleep' and an article explaining how yoga helps you sleep well.

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

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