Sleep Deprivation is classed as less than 5 hours per night. As well as slowing down reaction times and affecting concentration, lack of sleep has also been linked to many other illnesses including depression, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, chronic pain, diabetes and cancer. Many of this could be down to the unhealthy food choices we make when tired. As our body craves energy we essentially crave sugar…….muffin and latte for breakfast, mid-morning kit kat……………….. This results in bad eating habits leading to blood sugar level spikes, long story short leading to insulin resistance type 2 diabetes and obesity, which then follow onto the heart disease, chronic pain, and cancer. So the saying “you can sleep when you’re dead” may well be true it’s just if you don’t do enough of it whilst you’re alive you may be into eternal sleep sooner than you expected.
Due to our 24 hour society many people can find it difficult to switch off, we have constant entertainment provided by the internet, shops and takeaways and even the gym is now available 24hrs a day.
So what can you do if you struggle to drop off at night?
- Turn off electrical devices 1hour before bed, that means no late night TV or internet surfing (minds out the gutter please I meant Facebooking and The Big Bang Theory). Not only does the bright screen of these devices tell your brain its daylight preventing it from releasing sleep hormones but it is also encouraging your mind to stay active.
- Limit your caffeine intake after lunchtime. If you find it difficult to drop off at night try to stop caffeine after lunch, if you don’t have much of a problem after 6pm so do.
- As much as possible try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, your body clock will get used to the routine and automatically starts to wind down and wake up at the allotted time. That’s why I tend to wake up at 6am naturally on a weekend!
- Avoid alcohol. Many people think that an alcoholic drink will relax them and help them sleep however although you may drift off your quality of sleep will be compromised and you will not achieve R.E.M (Rapid eye movement, not the 90’s band!) which is the deep sleep you need to fully recharge.
Which brings me to another point, perhaps you are getting plenty of sleep but still seem to be tired. As well as looking at other diet and lifestyle factors, your quality of sleep may be an issue.
FitBit or a Jawbone comes as clip on device or as a wrist band and it keeps track of the steps you take over the course of the day and how active you are overall. It also generates reports and feedback on your activity levels. They will both also sync with MYFITNESSPAL in order to seamlessly log your diet and exercise for a whole lifestyle review.
Sleep Cycle is an iOS app that works by motion monitoring so the app will know when you toss and turn and when you wake in the middle of the night. The app collects its data and provides graphs, and lets you even mark conditions for the night, including behaviours you may have changed, so you can see their effect on your night’s rest. The app also functions as an alarm clock, and will wake you to your own music or any one of their own soothing alarm melodies for a gentle start to the day.
SleepBot for Android users will for track your sleep patterns and measuring how well you sleep over the course of several nights. The app tracks you sleep, but it also tracks movement overnight, auto-recording so you can hear whether you snore or if you’re having breathing problems overnight (or if you’re talking in your sleep-could be an interesting listen), and also gives you tips to help improve your sleep patterns and sleep quality. It also pairs with the Sleepbot webapp for even more detailed analysis.
So time to stop reading, unplug the kettle and go to some restful sleep.
PS. Inspiring me this week is Clive on holiday using a large water bottle as a makeshift kettlebell so he can still get a workout, made me feel a bit lazy really!