17 ways to harness the power of sleep by Physiotherapist Claudia Cocci Grifoni
Are you sleeping enough?
It’s not new news that we need proper sleep. But life is demanding and trying to juggle work, family commitments, social life and fitness normally mean that one aspect of our health gets deprived. And normally it is our sleep.
What are the effects of not sleeping enough?
After years of research, it can be confidently stated that the cumulative long-term effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders have profound effects on human health. In fact, they have been associated with a wide range of deleterious health issues including an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and stroke. And that is not all. As it is easy to imagine, lack of sleep has got also a huge impact in mood and mental wellbeing, in some cases leading to issues like depression and anxiety.
How much sleep should you be getting?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for adults is anywhere between 7 and 9 hours per night. Although, Nick Littlehales, in his book “Sleep” talks more about the amount of weekly 90 minutes cycles rather than hours. In order to take the pressure off, he invites people to think about sleep in a more flexible way…“one bad night won’t kill you!” Each individual needs a different amount of sleep according to different variables so it’s all about learning how much you as an individual need. “For the average person, 35 cycles per week is ideal. 28 (6 hours per night) to 30 is ok. If you’re getting anything less that isn’t planned for, you might be overdoing it.”
So here are some sleep-hacks for catching those Z’s:
- Find out what’s your chronotype. In other words, are you a PMer or an AMer? Then adjust your lifestyle to your chronotype as much as possible.
- Get into a sleep routine, including some pre and post- sleep “rituals”, and try to stick to it regularly.
- Perform a few minutes of deep breathing exercises in bed. There are plenty on this website you can try.
- Move your body from a warm environment to cooler one to trigger a natural drop in body temperature. For example, try having a warm shower before bed and then sleep in a cooler environment.
- Download the day from your mind before bed by writing down a ‘what’s on my mind’ list including worries, tasks, achievements, etc.
- Create your ideal bedroom. Keep it dark and tidy, spray some of your favorite essential oil on your pillow and make sure your bed is clean and comfortable.
- Limit screen time: avoid using a computer or electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime as the blue lights coming out of those screens suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light.
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom and avoid using it in bed. If you need it next to you, put it in airplane mode during the night to minimize EMF and distractions.
- Use nightshift apps on your phone and computer to regulate the brightness of the screens in the evening.
- Use blue light blocking glasses in the evening and during the night if you get up to go to the bathroom.
- Avoid drinking too many liquids before bed to avoid getting up at night.
- Exercise regularly, ideally cardio in the morning and strength work in the evening.
- Have one day a week without an alarm and let your body wake-up naturally.
- Don’t rely on caffeine to boost your alertness. Caffeine should only be used as a strategic performance enhancer, not out of habit—and no more than 400 milligrams per day. And remember, caffeine is also found in chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content.
- Try some CBD products, Epsom salts hot baths and magnesium supplements. Citrate and Glycinate can help to promote restful sleep.
- Avoid regular alcohol before bed. It may help you fall asleep but it suppresses melatonin and therefore negatively affects our circadian rhythms. These regulate our body’s processes including our metabolism, immunity, energy levels, ability to sleep, sex drive, cognitive functions and mood.
- If you’d like to track your sleep efficiency, check out one of the many trackers out there. I am usually not a fan of them, but this is an exception. It is called the OURA ring and gives detailed information on your sleep states, heart rate, heart rate variability (stress levels), body temperature, breathing rates, activity levels, and more, with minimal EMF.
There are so many more things that we can all do to improve the quality of our sleep but sometimes we need to seek specialist help. If you are really struggling and you have already tried all the tips above, make sure to seek some specific advice tailored to you by a sleep specialist.
I hope you have found that useful, please get in touch if you have any queries on 02075838288 or email email@example.com.
Claudia Cocci Grifoni