More sleep for better healthWritten by Bioharmony
A few decades ago, people slept for nearly nine hours a night. Now, we count ourselves lucky if we even get seven hours per night.
We might have more time to work or play but we’re not doing ourselves any favours. In fact, we are doing ourselves harm. A lack of sleep is known to have the following effects:
Studies at the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine show that production of leptin and ghrelin, which are hormones that impact our appetite, are influenced by how much or how little we sleep.
Put simply, a tired person is lazy about food choices and eats more junk food and as a result, tired people have a greater risk of gaining weight.
Depression and anxiety
Sleep deprivation could result in depression and it makes you worry more. In fact, insomnia is a key symptom of depression.
A lower sex drive
Poor sleep patterns elevate cortisol levels and significantly lower testosterone levels, negatively impacting moods. Low energy levels and increased levels of anxiety means a decreased interest in sex.
People produce growth hormones when they are in a deep sleep, so while we are sleeping, our skin is repairing itself. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t produce enough growth hormone and your skin will begin to have less elasticity with more fine lines and darker circles under the eyes.
There’s nothing worse than going to bed early only to lie there wide awake or counting sheep. If this happens to you, get out of your bed and find something relaxing to do. Remember, your bed is for sleeping (and sex!) and you need to train your body to understand that.
Below are a few other sleep tips:
- Create a natural sleep-wake rhythm by having a regular bedtime and wake up time, and try to stick to it at weekends. This trains your internal clock to sleep when it needs to.
- Make up lost sleep by having naps, don’t be tempted to sleep later in the mornings. Limit naps to 30 minutes.
- Meditate and use breathing exercises to improve sleep quality. Try this technique: Breathe in through your nostrils for a count of three, extending your stomach. Hold your breath for three seconds then exhale out of your mouth for a count of six. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer.
- Limit caffeine intake after 7pm
Tech to the rescue
Believe it or not, it’s possible that your smartphone might help you sleep – but only if you stay off the social network and stop surfing the net at least 30 minutes before bedtime. You should also switch off your TV half an hour before bedtime.
So, about having your smartphone help you to sleep, there are various smart phone apps that are designed to assist with sleeping:
- White noise and sound apps
White noise lulls you to sleep by distracting you from stress and drowning out background noise. If you decide to go with one of these apps, program it so it turns off when you’re asleep.
- Sleep cycle monitoring alarms
Sleep cycle monitoring alarms measure movement and then distinguishes between deep and light sleep. However, this isn’t entirely accurate as brain activity can only really be monitored in a sleep lab.
- Journaling apps
Keeping track of your diet, exercise and energy levels will help you understand how you are impacting your sleep patterns. Just be careful not to become obsessive about it.
There are a number of these apps available in South Africa, simply go to the health and fitness sections of your phone’s app store to find them.
Products from Bioharmony to help you!