Streamline Fitness



07 May 2014 By In Blog

Sleep is as natural and essential as breathing and eating.
How much do you sleep? Eight hours is about the average amount we should have to function with enough energy throughout the day, but nowadays we tend to have six hours or less due to increased hours at work and trying to 'fit in' more activities with the family or friends.

At a basic level sleep is a natural response to fatigue. The activity of the body slows down and the body and the brain are able to rest. The body is also able to slow down its metabolism, conserving energy and use resources to fight any infections there may be. Sleep is also very important for facilitating growth and development, especially in children as growth hormone is released. The growth hormone continues to be important into adulthood also as it enables the body to renew and repair itself. The body's skin blood and brain cells are all renewed faster during sleep than when we are awake. Sleeping during illness or infection can help us to fight infection and recover more quickly. Adequate sleep may play a role in helping us to resist infection. In studies it has been shown that even moderate amounts of sleep depravation can reduce the levels of white blood cells which fight infection, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the body's defence systems.


Whether you are a believer in having the minimum of sleep of six hours or even enjoying a full nine hours, it is "core sleep ' or a combination of deep, slow- wave and r.e.m sleep (dream phase) sleep that is needed. Each of us has a personal sleeping cycle, which goes in cycles of 90-100 minutes. Having what we feel is good quality sleep and trying to make sure we receive our required quota of restful sleep will ensure that we are waking up refreshed and feeling we have enough energy to complete the day ahead without falling into a no-energy zone after lunchtime and struggling through the rest of the day. Restful, sleep is vital to our health and well being. We can accept that it is ok to be tired at night but regular long-term exhaustion and sleep depravation or disorders can cause accidents and disease. Latest research shows that young children who watch hours of television and do not get enough sleep face a higher risk of obesity in later life.

For anyone who finds they have a sleeping problem such as insomnia or not getting enough sleep, paying attention to how you use your energy during the day and what you do whilst at home before bedtime can help improve the chances of a more restful sleep. Working long or irregular (night shift) hours, combined with a poor nutritional diet and little or no exercise is a recipe for a body, which has to stay in a perpetual state of alert and stress. Other enemies can be over consumption of alcohol, staying awake to watch disturbing t.v and emotional stress worries causing the mind and the body to overreact and keep you awake. A sudden change from sleeping six or seven hours a night to three or less is a reason for concern. Dark circles around the eyes can indicate that you have been sleeping superficially.
Knowing when to "call it a day" and go to bed means tuning into our natural body rhythms.

Ways to improve your nights sleep

Your body and mind will thrive on the discipline of regular cycles of activity and rest. Experiment with how much sleep you need to function well through the day. If you notice each evening you are yawning or wanting to fall asleep at 10 o clock, try not to stay up to much later unless very necessary or you could miss your window of sleepiness and have to wait for the next 90minute dip in energy levels. Make a commitment to have a deadline for getting to bed and try to stay within 20mins of this either side of the time you decide. Then also try to keep your wake up time similar each day(work permitting of course)

Mentally prepare for sleep. Write down any important tasks or deadlines for tomorrow as this helps to settle the mind. Focus on calming the mind and body with some relaxation time before bed. A warm relaxing bath, listening to gentle music or reading a book can help the body to unwind before sleep.

Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and eating large fatty processed foods just before bedtime. You should allow about two hours before bedtime eating a large meal. Starch sugar salt and food additives can actually cause hyperactivity and stimulate nerve endings. Children can be particularly vulnerable because their immune systems are not fully developed.

Get active! But before bedtime! Sleep is a natural response to physical tiredness. Building regular exercise into your daily routine will help you to feel naturally tired at the end of the day and will also benefit your immune system, fight depression, tone muscles and help to prevent heart disease. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy and can have access to, even if it is only a brisk 15minute walk in the fresh air. However do not leave it too late in the day to do any vigorous activity, try to allow two hours before exercise and bedtime. Gentle stretches however such as tensing and relaxing muscles just before sleep can actually be part of a pre-sleep routine.

Your sleep environment should be a peaceful and intimate haven.

Find something comforting to help you sleep. This can include a hot water bottle, an herb filled pillow, soft cotton sheets but most importantly a comfortable supportive bed! The temperature of the room should be around 18degrees C (65F) for conductive restful sleep.  Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible at night. Soft lighting before bed helps to keep you more relaxed. Keep electrical appliances such as radios, televisions, computers and mobile phones to a minimum as they can emit radioactive waves causing geopathic stress. This is the name of the natural and artificial electromagnetic forces that surround us. Have your bedroom decorated in restful colours such as softpeaches, warm pinks or ,calm creams  or relaxing pale greens, avoiding vibrant strong stimulating oranges or reds!

Finally if you still find after all this that you are clock watching, STOP!!! You can always try the fail-safe method of counting the sheep.


Read 2728 times Last modified on Thursday, 06 November 2014 15:29
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