Thursday, 15 November 2012

The secrets of sleep

What I wouldn’t give to be a good sleeper.

Anyone who knows me, or indeed has spend a night in the same house as me, will know a peaceful night is a rarity for me.

Although I have always been the same It is something I wish could get to the bottom of.

Sleep is important for heart health, a healthy immune system, stress, hormone production, mood, memory just to mention a few basic functions.

It is, in fact the foundation of a healthy body and mind.

Any insomniac will tell you there is nothing worse than lying wide awake at 3am with your mind churning over, your body crying out for it to shut up and let you get some rest.

Or worse, a string of wakes from midnight through to 6am - on the hour every hour.

So thanks to beds company Dreams for sending me some sleep info yesterday.

Here are their expert tips for getting to sleep:

Add  lavender or chamomile oil to your pillow.

Bedroom temperature is vital to a good night’s sleep, the optimum temperature for an adult’s bedroom is 16°c, so steady with the radiator settings.

Don’t dwell on things and never go to bed angry or upset.

If your mind  is buzzing, write things down – have a notepad and pen by your bed and get everything down on paper before you hit the sack.

Take some gentle exercise such as yoga or Pilates in the evening and if you are a gym bunny, make sure your work out is done and dusted at least three hours before bed.

Get some air. Being too hot and stuffy can keep you awake so open the window a couple of centimetres.

Try deep breathing techniques. Close your eyes and take a deep, slow breath. Do this 10 times and make each breath deeper than the last.

Change position. Side lying is regarded as the best sleep position to ensure a good night’s sleep as it helps keep your airways open and gives optimal blood circulation

And some sleep dos and don’ts

Do eat a banana before bedtime. Packed full of magnesium (which is a muscle relaxant) they also balance serotonin and melatonin levels which aid a powerful snooze.

Do sip on some chamomile tea. This is a mild sedative that helps calm and relax the mind and body.

Don’t overdo it on the caffeine. Limit yourself to a max of 2 cups a day and don’t drink any coffee after 6pm.

Don’t eat spicy or acidic food in the evening as this can cause heartburn and troubled sleep

And finally some sleep myths

“A couple of glasses of wine will help you nod off better”.  Actually drinking too much alcohol actually increases the number of times you wake up during the night.

Weekend catch up doesn’t work. Stick to a regular regime of getting up at the same time even at weekends and try taking a short cat nap during the day instead.

Older people need less sleep. Everyone needs an average of seven hours sleep no matter what your age.

Eating cheese before bed will not give you nightmares. In fact, the compounds in dairy foods have actually been shown to help aid sleep

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