Sweet Dreams

Sleep is good for you!

According to Wikipedia: “Sleep deprivation (having too little sleep), can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight gain. Complete absence of sleep over long periods is impossible to achieve; brief microsleeps (3-14 seconds) cannot be avoided.”

What causes us not to sleep?

I asked around Ireland and was not surprised by some of the answers and suggestions:

  • The Internet (24hr availability)
  • Too much coffee / tea
  • Excessive Alcohol
  • Eating large meals late at night
  • Cable TV (24hr availability)
  • Night work
  • Anxiety and stress, money worries
  • New babies
  • Sick or ill children, spouse or dependants
  • Procrastination
  • Increased shift work
  • Lack of interest in sleeping
  • Social Networking (Facebook, Bebo, Twitter)
  • Spouse snoring
  • Dogs barking next door, alarms
  • Too warm, too cold
  • Medical and more serious conditions

The list seems endless! It’s true that our days are filled up differently than years ago where routine was necessary for survival. Now that we have all to hand, we find we do things at different times. One huge issue I see in Ireland today is eating and working too late at night – another cause of lack of sleep. Another contributor is spending unnecessary time on Social Networking like Facebook and Twitter. For those who run their own business, it can be tempting to burn the midnight oil while the house is quiet to get some paperwork done. We have so much distraction, that invariably we are in danger of eating into our “sleeping” time.

How much sleep do we need?

We could follow the 8 rule – 8 glasses of water a day and 8 hours continuous sleep a night. Again when I asked the question, the sleep required varied between 7 and 10 hours a night. People are generally getting 2 hours less than what they know they need. Where does this deficiency occur? Well, the list above speaks for itself! Having said that, some people do “Powernap” (15-40 mins) in the afternoon and claim that this is as good as getting 2-3 hours of extra sleep. Napping helps improve memory, cognitive function and mood, and is an effective alternative to a caffeine hit. Napping has been a great relief for seasoned newbie mums – they can use the baby’s sleeping time during the day to catch up on their own. However, many newbie mums use this time to catch up on chores, thereby missing out on this important opportunity. The jury is still out on that one!

What are some of the consequences of sleep deprivation?

  • Excessive yawning
  • Lack of attention
  • Microsleeps (3-14 seconds blackout)
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight gain and risk of obesity
  • Risk of Diabetes
  • Risk of Heart and other diseases
  • Reduced immunity
  • Negative mood or lethargy during the day
  • Impaired moral judgment

What are the benefits of a good nights sleep?

  • Increased daytime awareness
  • Increased immune system to tackle disease
  • Slowing down of the aging process (really!)
  • Increased serotonin in the body which helps the “Good mood” factor
  • Reduced depression, stress and anxiety
  • Promotes the “will seem better in the morning” feeling as it does work

When we sleep well, we feel well. Thus we will feel healthier and therefore be more inclined to live healthier through diet and exercise, avoiding bad food habits

What is the best bedtime Ritual?

Let me share with you my system that I find very effective:

  1. Decide or find out how many hours sleep you need every night (this does not mean deprived sleep during the week and made up with a sleep-in on Sundays)
  2. Decide what time is a good time to go to bed and a good time to wake up (taking important factors into consideration such as children, animals)
  3. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleeping and not part of your office, playroom, TV room. Make it a sanctuary (A bedroom should only be used for two things – sleep and sex)
  4. Avoid television and computers before hitting the sack
  5. Have a quiet time before bed – every night
  6. Use this quiet time to read or write (15 mins is often sufficient)
  7. Keep water beside the bed so you can rehydrate during the night if you wake up
  8. Make sure the last few minutes are focused on relaxations techniques such as conscious breathing, affirmations, relishing in the successes of the day
  9. Plan your following day mentally in your head, but only the positive stuff
  10. If you have worries, write them down and consciously tell yourself “I’ll tackle that tomorrow”
  11. Set your alarm for wake-up time if you are worried about waking up
  12. In the morning, don’t be tempted to hit snooze until you are overshot the comfortable “getting ready” time. Over sleeping may leave you feeling negative and lethargic all day
  13. Give yourself a minute to think positive thoughts for the day and then GET UP!
  14. When you get out of bed, go straight to a mirror and smile at yourself. It will make you laugh and set a positive tone for the day

In conclusion

The quality of our day is influenced by the quality of our night. Getting adequate sleep = getting the most out of our day that follows. So set the tone of your day by getting your relaxation and sleep routines sorted out. Your body will thank you for it by being healthier, fitter and more beautiful! If you have worries that deprive you of sleep, tackle the worries first and good sleep will return. If talking through your issues with a friend or someone close to you doesn’t get results, seek the input of a Coach. A Coach will help speed up the process of  getting results.

Sweet Dreams,
Elaine

8 thoughts on “Sweet Dreams

  • September 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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    Great post! It is true that regular sleeping can reduce our stress. And by doing so, we focus more on the things that we’ll be doing the next day.

    • September 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm
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      Thank you Trevor,
      Many will argue that sleep is for when we are dead, but at no point in history of man, did he not sleep so it is an integral part of our 24 hour cycle. We may have our minimum and maximum but every human needs to “regenerate the batteries” and “re-load”.
      Lack of sleep over one or two nights can have a longer lasting negative on our health, concentration, mental attitude, biological clock and every aspect of our being.

      Elaine

  • July 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm
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    Hi Elaine,
    Good blog as always, lots of lists this time. Have to say I’m a little amused by the final point on one of your lists which implies that poor sleepers are less “moral” than betters sleepers. I would love to see the study on that one.
    Andrew.
    PS Yes I am a pedantic pete!

    • July 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm
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      Thank you Andrew.
      Pedantically, I would expect you would be more concerned about the claims that sleep “slows down the aging process”!
      It’s all debatable and hard to prove, but provides food for thought for some or may just put you to sleep!
      Happy snooze time,

      Elaine

  • July 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm
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    Thanks for posting about this, I would love to read more about this topic.

  • July 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm
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    I sometimes drink Valerian (or Camomile) tea in the evening to set me up for a good sleep. Not too close to bedtime though or you may have to use the bathroom during the night, which is disruptive.

    I think routine is important. Going to bed / getting up at the same time every day (even at weekends) results in a better sleep pattern.

    • July 22, 2009 at 3:09 am
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      Thanks Paul,
      Chamomile tea is such a refreshing drink just before bed – yet it has that calming effect. I sincerely believe though, if we need to rise during the night because a drink of water or tea woke us, as long as we fall back to sleep relatively quickly – it doesn’t actually interfere with the quality of sleep. This is because we awake at an appropriate time during the night for the body.
      This is not the case for everyone but may be the norm.
      Routine is imperative for the human body to maintain health – making up sleep at the weekend is not a substitute for lack of sleep during the week. I refer to this activity as “fire fighting” and it can be an indication of how we manage our days.

      Thanks again,
      Elaine

  • July 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm
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    Thanks for posting that Elaine, really useful stuff!

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