Sleep for Health?
Do we really need to sleep well to improve our health? That is the question….
Do you sometimes love to hate sleep because it alludes you?
Do you sometimes wake up and wonder if you actually did fall asleep at all the night before?
Do you ever lie awake at night, next to your blissfully sleeping partner and plot to kick them in the shin just so they can be awake as well (hmmm, maybe you don’t, but I know I do- how can he fall asleep so quickly!)
When your child comes in or cries out for the 17th time (bless their little shrieking lungs!), do you too wonder if sleep is REAL or simply a figment of your imagination?
Guess what, your not alone!
I find I am a cyclic insomniac. It’s easy to make light of it right now while I am awake, but it’s really not funny when I am lying in bed at night and my brain just won’t turn off. When I cycle into the dreaded insomnia, I suffer with a mixture of not being able to get to sleep, being restless while I am asleep, and waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.
Being that it was recently World Sleep Day, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some interesting info about sleeping and the fact that sleep is actually a really important element in our health and wellbeing.
Sleep is a fundamental necessity of life. Sure, there are differences in how much sleep people need, and times in life when you naturally seem to want more or less (I’m up a lot more in summer and tend to want more sleep in winter), but we ALL need to sleep. Sleep is a key element in health on so many levels, because if we are tired, we don’t perform at our best whether that’s at work, on the sports field or in the classroom. This can lead to emotional responses that are unhealthy. If we become chronically tired, it plays out in every area of our life: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in our relationships. Here are some great pages I found whilst researching this topic.
The Sleep Doctor had an interesting article with 5 Relaxation Techniques to Help De-stress Sleep. What I really loved was the correlation between anxiety and sleep. I will be sharing in a later blog about my experience with anxiety, but suffice to say, I have suffered with it before, and I am the one who tends towards worry and stress (Matt is the eternal optimist, laughing even when everything is grey!). It makes a lot of sense what The Sleep Doctor says about anxiety, especially how stress increases adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine…ever tried getting to sleep when you are in flight or fight mode?! I know that often, my insomnia is related to an inability to turn my brain OFF! Sometimes, its because I am worried or stressed about something. Sometimes I don’t think it has anything to do with that. However, reading this article helped me to see (in hindsight!) that often when there has been a stressful event, whilst I may not be thinking about that in particular, those are the nights my brain feels WIRED and I can’t seem to get it to turn off.
Debra from Warm Milk writes on a topic very close to my heart, and worth considering for all of us who are trying to live intentional lives- Bespectacled Lives. I know I do sometimes go to bed and wonder how crazy I am to have started a blog, if anyone is reading it, if I should just pack up and go back to nursing, or if I should just be doing my normal paid job and leaving everything else. Except I know I never could, because I don’t want to live with regrets. A great challenging read on putting it all into perspective before bed. Choosing Courage for a Good Nights Sleep
The sleep health foundation has some great tips on getting a good night’s sleep. I especially can relate to number 8- don’t watch the clock. A couple of years ago I was going through the worst insomnia I have ever faced (with a number of contributing factors), and I found that I was watching the clock incessantly. It was like I wanted to be able to say “I only fell asleep at 2:17am!” so I had a real reason to whine. I found that when I moved the clock and stopped looking at it, the next day was different simply because I didn’t know exactly how much sleep I had.
Lastly, I found a research article on the associations of frequent sleep insufficiency with health related quality of life and health behaviours. What really jumped out at me was that the authors state that insufficient sleep is a major health problem. People who responded to the interviewers questions indicated that insufficient sleep impacted on their health related quality of life in all domains that were presented (physical, mental distress, pain, depressive symptoms, anxiety, activity limitations). I have just been chatting to friends about this blog, and they too felt like their sleep was a key factor to how healthy and energetic they felt. Sleep really is a pretty big deal!
So, what to do to sleep better? I have been letting this horrible insomnia be a part of my life for far too long, mainly because every time I cycle back out of it I think “that’ll be it now, I’m going to sleep well for ever and ever!” Sad hey. Matt would be proud actually, that’s positive thinking (in a really unrealistic way LOL!)
It’s time to do something about it. I have created a FREE Sleep Journal, which you can print out and use to assess your own sleep. Simply pop your info below and it will be heading your way shortly!
I would also love to invite you to join our FB group Living Bespectacled. This is a great place to have some conversations around any strategies we implement that are helpful. I will be in the group posting anything relevant I come across also. A great place to learn about the various aspects we will be exploring through the blog!
Until next time.. Sweet Dreams!