For good health, we need sleep like we need water, good food and exercise. Here's how to get it...
Story by Jenny Ringland Image created by Ashley Alexander from @gatherandfeast
Sleep is essential to detox and repair from the day. Even if you are super healthy, your body still creates internal pollution, known as free radicals; this happens simply from converting food to energy. Sleep enables the body to restore a balance of power that favours antioxidants to counter these free radicals and ensure we wake up each morning at our equilibrium.
Scientific research suggests that eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is an unrealistic goal. Waking up a few times during the night doesn’t necessarily indicate poor sleep; it’s the anxiety and stress that comes with being awake that makes us tired! Waking up is the signal of the end of a sleep cycle. We all have 90-minute sleep cycles that begin with deep sleep and end with a lighter sleep, and we can sometimes wake up at the end of each cycle.
It can be easy to create a sense of ‘normal’ when we get used to patterns of limited sleep, but the body will turn to stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to create energy, which in the long run wears us down and reduces our organs ability to function correctly.
Before the invention of the light bulb (thanks Thomas Edison) most people practiced segmented sleep. is involved going to bed in the dark, waking for an hour or two around midnight and then sleeping again until dawn. During those awake periods, many people stayed in bed to pray, record and talk about their dreams or had sex, as it was an ideal time for conception. Some people got out of bed, made cups of tea or sat by the re or even went outside! Point being, we’re not necessarily designed to sleep all night without waking. So if you do wake up, perhaps the knowledge that it’s OK to be awake is all you need to contentedly drift back to sleep in your own time. And if not, why not make a pot of our SLEEP WELLE Fortified Calming Tea? It’s a natural and effective blend of herbs that can assist with sleep, anxiety and stress. Sit quietly, inhale the gentle passionflower fragrance, sip mindfully and come back to yourself.
Still can’t sleep? We know it’s easy to fall into a pattern of not sleeping, stressing about it and staying awake. So, here are some helpful hints:
It Takes Me Ages To Fall Asleep
Set a regular waking time and stick to it no matter how little sleep you get. Go to bed when you’re feeling tired, not before. If after 15 minutes you’re still awake get up and come back when you're feel sleepy.
My Mind Won’t Stop Racing
Practice relaxation and meditation outside bedtime hours to the point of feeling sleepy. US sleep expert Dr Andrew Weil suggests breathe through the nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, exhale for eight. Repeat two to four times. Once you’ve learned this technique, it will make it easier to use it in the middle of the night when you can’t get back to sleep. Practice twice a day for 10 minutes.
I Wake Up Through The Night And Can’t Get Back To Sleep
You could be spending too much time in bed. Reduce time in bed e.g. from midnight to 6am for two weeks. To begin with it may take your usual length of time to fall asleep, however as sleep pressure builds up it will take less and less time. Once you are sleeping for the full six hours and you are still tired, increase the time in bed in half hour increments.
Your body will thank you!