4 Important Reasons To Get Enough Sleep

Since I am one of the worst culprits when it comes to burning the candle at both ends, and having experienced all the negative effects of sleep deprivation, this post also serves as a reminder to myself of how important enough sleep is. The tips at the end of the article are really helpful, and with a bit of self discipline it is quite amazing how one’s quality of life can be improved with a few simple steps.

1. To Improve Memory

Adequate sleep improves your memory and creativity, because our body repairs neurons in the cerebral cortex more effectively during sleep. This in turn helps concentration levels during the day, so you can work or study more effectively and faster.

2. To Prevent Unhealthy Cravings

Chronic sleep deprivation is perceived as stress by the body, which increases cortisol levels, therefore interfering with insulin function. This compromises blood sugar regulation, causing cravings for sweets and junk foods, risking abdominal weight gain, diabetes and obesity.

3. To Promote Healthy Cells

Sleep helps repair and rebuild cells, strengthening our immune system and fighting disease.

4. To Prevent or Ease Depression

Sufficient sleep improves mood. Insomnia increases the risk of depression and anxiety.

The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, however experts agree that most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The best quality sleep takes place between 22h00 and 02h00, so sleeping late in the morning is not beneficial. However sleeping too much (more than 9 hours a night) can also be damaging to health and lead to depression.

It is important to sleep in a dark room and avoid lights even from clock radios and cell phones, as any light can interfere with melatonin production, the  hormone needed for healthy sleep cycles. It is recommended that in case of waking to go to the bathroom during the night, one should do so in the dark, as even a brief moment of light will depress melatonin levels, which are highest during the night.

Melatonin regulates sleep/wake cycles. Levels decrease with age, and shift workers often suffer from low levels as well.

To induce healthy sleep, it is recommended that one switches off computers and other electronic devices and stops work at least one hour before bed time, as these compromise healthy sleep. Bedrooms should be cool and well ventilated, free from clutter and without distractions like TV or radio, which emit unhealthy electromagnetic radiation interfering with sleep cycles and putting a burden on the body, which can lead to various health problems. The same goes for cell phones, which should be placed at least 3 metres away from the bed.

Tips for a good nights sleep

Having at least 2 – 3 hours between dinner and bed time; daily exercise sessions of at least 30 minutes (but nothing too energetic too close to bed time); frequent exposure to sun and fresh air; no caffeine after 15h00; no watching late night news, which can be distressing to the mind; deep relaxation or meditation; a regular bed time routine and getting up the same time every day, even on weekends; soothing, gentle activities just before falling asleep, like a warm bath, a cup of herbal tea, reading, listening to relaxing music etc.

Sleep deprived? Try this and see how amazing you feel!

For one whole week, go to bed at 22h00 every single day – no excuses – and get up at 06h00 (if you have to get up earlier, because  you have to leave for work early, adjust your bedtime accordingly). Stick to these hours for 7 days. Don’t stress, if you cannot stay asleep for the full 8 hours. Just practice deep breathing and relaxation, place some rescue remedy next to your bed and take 10 drops if you start worrying about not sleeping. If you really battle to fall asleep or don’t stay asleep long enough, there are many very effective natural  remedies on the market, eg: Passiflora, Melatonin, L-Tyrosine, various herbal products combining different herbs etc. Ask your local health shop for advice.

After 7 days of this discipline you will feel amazing!

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