The Beauty of Sleep!

A good nights rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle! Rest is just as important as eating a balanced diet, daily exercise and stress management. On average most adults require about eight to ten hours of sleep every night to in order to get the full benefit from rest. When we sleep well we have the energy to take on the day, the creativity to put into our work and home-life, and we feel better over all. Good sleep also reduces the signs of aging – we wake up looking and feeling refreshed, and who doesn’t want that?

When we sleep we are rebuilding and rejuvenating our bodies, we are supporting immune health and hormone function. There are 3 different stages of sleep and each night we go through several cycles of these stages. The third stage is known as our deep sleep and during this time there is increased secretion of growth hormone which helps to repair and rebuild our body and tissues. It has also been shown that while we sleep we have increased production of proteins and decreased breakdown of proteins. Proteins are very important for cell growth and repair from damaging factors such as stress.

When we are sleep deprived our bodies register this as added stress to our system. Most of us could use less stress in our daily life and if you are sleep deprived on top off all the stress you experience on a daily basis you could be heading down a dangerous road.

How do you know you’re sleep deprived?

  1. Not sleeping 8-10 hours a night regularly.
  2. Not sleeping solid throughout the night.
  3. Difficulty winding down and getting to sleep at night.
  4. Waking early hours in the morning and not being able to fall back asleep.
  5. Waking frequently to go to the bathroom.

If you feel you’re not getting the rest you deserve there are several tips to help you get a more restful sleep.

  1. Schedule Sleep: Maintaining a consistent sleep cycle helps to support the bodies need for rhythm and routine. Your internal clock or circadian rhythm guides your sleep and is very sensitive to change. By going to sleep every night at the same time and waking at the same time you keep your internal clock happy which in turn supports more restful sleep. Try to avoid sleeping-in for missed hours over the weekend because it really throws off your internal clock.
  2. Wind Down: It’s important to get into a ‘relaxed’ state as bedtime approaches. Spend at least one hour before bed engaged in some relaxing activities to help you wind down from the busy day such as mediation, reading, a warm bath with lavender oils, listening to quiet soothing music, or any other activity that you find relaxing. You want to avoid strenuous activities or anything that gets you worked up close to bedtime.
  3. Mindfully Consume: Caffeine consumption, especially if you have troubles falling asleep or staying asleep should not be consumed in the afternoon or evening. Eating before bed overloads the digestive system and takes energy away form the rebuilding and regenerating tasks of sleep. Sugar is also very stimulating sand should not be consumed at night – such as chocolate, candy, soda etc. Also consuming extra liquids in the evening can keep you up going to the bathroom throughout the night, so reduce consumption of liquids a couple hours before bed.
  4. Regular Exercise: Research shows that regular exercise earlier in the day improves the quality of sleep – one more reason it’s important to incorporate daily activity into your lifestyle. Exercise helps to reduce circulating stress hormones and will promote a less ‘wired’ feeling into the evening and before bed.

There are a several herbal teas that can also be helpful for winding down and preparing for a restful sleep, these include:

  1. Passionflower
  2. Valerian
  3. Chamomile
  4. Lavender
  5. Combo ‘sleepy teas’ I personally like the Calm tea by Tazo (it’s the Starbuck brand but you can find it for cheaper at Zehrs!)

Lastly, your sleep environment can greatly impact your quality of sleep! There are a few things that you can do to make your bedroom a sleep haven!

  1. Keep a pitch black room while you sleep by using heavy curtains and turning off all lights.
  2. Quiet as a mouse – turn off all music or the T.V. before bed! It is very important to have the quietest possible sleeping environment so you don’t disturb your internal clock form doing its job. Even traffic on the street or horns beeping can disturb sleep. Keep this in mind when you’re buying a house and choosing where to put your new bedroom.
  3. Keep your bed away form power outlets – the radiation from power outlets can disturb sleep. Try to keep you bed at least 2 feet away from powered electrons such as the alarm clock or radio.

With all the work our bodies do during sleep it’s no wonder that we spend – or should be spending – 1/3 of our lifetime sleeping! Getting a good night sleep on a regular basis does so much for our health and helps us to live a full and vibrant life. Good rest leads to more energy, extra patience, greater ability to deal with daily stress and a younger more refreshed look! That’s the Beauty of Sleep!