Sleep – the most important activity of the day. It is an activity, because it isn’t about your body and mind shutting off. While you are resting, your brain does a lot of work – supervising a whole array of biological maintenance that keeps your body functioning as optimally as possible. Without enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to run all these ‘bodily maintenance programmes’ leaving you unable to work to your true potential. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation can lead to both mental and physical issues.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
While sleep requirements do vary from person to person, most adults need between 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep per night to be functioning at their best. Children and teenagers need even more.
And despite the idea that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least seven and a half to eight hours of sleep. Some older adults often struggle to stay asleep for this long during the night, so afternoon naps can help make up the hours.
The best way to work out if you’re having enough sleep is to check in and see how you feel as you through the day. If you’re getting enough, your energy will be pretty constant all day with you feeling energetic and alert all day.
Getting in to a good sleep pattern
Sleep debt can’t be paid off in a night or at the weekend, but don’t despair, with a little effort and planning, you can get back on track.
Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle—your circadian rhythm—is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep.
If you keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, you will feel much more refreshed and energised.
- Set a regular bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the change in small daily amounts, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day
- Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake-time even on weekends
- Block out enough time to sleep – aim for at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night and be consistent
- Relaxation techniques: try a guided meditation or some breathing techniques to help you switch off the busy brain
- Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, sugary snacks and caffeine in the lead-up to bed time
- Avoid screens in the bedroom – TV, computer, phones and iPads. And try and switch off from screen activity at least an hour before bedtime
- Have a high protein, low GI snack at about 9pm, especially if you are falling asleep but then waking during the night
- Exercise every day, but try and complete any exercise before 7pm
- Keep a sleep diary. Record when you go to bed, when you get up, your total hours of sleep, and how you feel during the day. As you keep track of your sleep, you’ll discover your natural patterns and get to know your sleep needs
- Make sleep a priority. Just as you schedule time for work and other commitments, you should schedule enough time for sleep
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between health and productivity. As you start getting the sleep you need, your energy and efficiency will go up. In fact, you’re likely to find that you actually get more done during the day than when you were skimping on shut-eye.
If you find you need help in getting in to good sleeping patterns, there are a number of natural supplements to consider. Contact one of the experts at the Natural Chemist Tel: 1300 882 303, we’d be happy to discuss sleep options with you.
Recommended sleep supplements:
– Redormin – valerian and hops in a combination that has been shown to assist in the relief of sleeplessness and insomnia and improve sleep quality
– Ultra Muscleze Night – This is a very effective blend of magnesium, Lactium and Sour Cherry (naturally high in melatonin), which have all been shown in clinical trials to help with sleep.
– Neurocalm: a good supplement for assisting in calming down before bed, it moderates some of the chemicals that lead to the busy mind and feelings of anxiousness
– Kava: another good supplement if you need assistance calming down before bed. This is particularly helpful if anxiety is the cause of your sleeplessness.
– Bach flowers: white chestnut is good to calm an active mind
Jouvet M, 1999. Sleep and serotonin: An unfinished story. Neuropsychopharm, 21, pp24S-27S
Peuhkuri K, 2012. Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nut Res, 32;5, pp309-319