Sleep Revolution Top Tips
- Sleep is an effortless recipe
It’s not just a matter of quantity of sleep – quality and timing matter hugely.
The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10pm-2am. After 2am, your sleep becomes more superficial. This is the period where the restorative processes take place, helping our cells recover from illness or injury, converting short-term to long-term memory, solving problems, encouraging creative thinking and detoxing our brain from harmful proteins that may have built up during the day.
Typically, if you miss the 10pm bedtime, it will take much longer to fall asleep. The quality of sleep will also be less refreshing and there will still be a sense of fatigue in the morning. Even adjusting your bedtime from 11pm to 10pm will make an enormous difference in the quality of your sleep and enhance your feeling of wakefulness the following day.
- Sleep Architecture
Our sleep is made up of roughly 90-minute cycles throughout the night and each cycle is made up of 4 stages.
Stage 1 happens during the first 5-10 minutes of the sleep cycle. This is when it is easiest to be awoken and your muscles begin to relax. This is also when you are most likely to experience a hypnagogic jerk, when muscles suddenly twitch, or you may feel like you are falling.
Stage 2 takes up half of the sleep cycle, lasting around 45-50 minutes. If you are woken up at this time, you will likely feel very disoriented. Breathing becomes relaxed and slowed as the body temperature drops, giving your heart a bit of a break. Neural activity also decreases during this time, as the body prepares for the next phase of the cycle.
Stage 3 is when deep sleep occurs for about 20 minutes and the body is given the chance to restore itself. Brain waves become slow and steady, muscle and tissues are repaired. Waste management systems in the brain become very active, flushing out that which impairs cognitive function.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is the final stage in the cycle, lasting about 20 minutes. Though the eyes are closed, they move very quickly underneath the eyelid. Brain activity is high and the bulk of dreaming takes place during this time. However, muscles are paralysed, preventing voluntary muscle movement. REM stages are very important as it influences memory and serves restorative functions. It can affect our concentration levels and motor skills whilst we are awake and is at its peak in the second half to final third of the night.
- Whilst asleep, the brain is hard at work
When we are asleep our brains ARE NOT doing nothing.
Positive benefits for the brain:
Essentially, all the stuff we’ve burned up during the day, we restore, we replace, we rebuild during the night.
2) BRAIN PROCESSING and MEMORY CONSOLIDATION
What we know is that, if after you’ve tried to learn a task, and you sleep-deprive individuals, the ability to learn that task is hugely attenuated.
3) ENHANCES OUR CREATIVITY
Our ability to think creatively and solve problems is dramatically enhanced by sleep, as our brain makes a series of neural connections.
- Sleep Debt
A side effect of sleep deprivation is micro sleep. That’s when you’re asleep for only a few seconds or a few minutes, but you don’t realize it. Micro sleep is out of your control and can be extremely dangerous if you’re driving. It can also make you more prone to injury due to trips and falls.
Emotionally – sleep debt makes you far more likely to have a short temper and experience mood swings. Cognitive function is overall impaired.
With excessive sleep debt you are at risk of hallucinations. It can also trigger people who are prone to mental illnesses.
Immune System- During sleep the immune system produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies and cells. These are used to fight off any foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. They also help you sleep so the immune system has more energy to defend against illness. Averagely it will take you longer to recover from illnesses. Long-term sleep deprivation raises the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Sleep deprivation is one of the risk factors for obesity, along with over eating and lack of exercise. Sleep debt increases the amount of cortisol and lowers the level of a hormone called leptin. This is the hormone that tells the brain you have had enough to eat.
It also raises a biochemical called ghrelin which is an appetite stimulant. Sleep deprivation prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat. This promotes fat storage and increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- When to seek medical advice
Call your health provider if:
- Your sleeping problem becomes persistent and affects your quality of life, despite behavior changes
- Your sleeping problem occurs more than 3 nights per week for more than 1 month
- You have other worrisome symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath
- You’re becoming over-reliant on over the counter sleep medication
If not travelling premium pay extra for a seat with extra leg room
Seek peace & quiet – avoid the kitchen and toilet areas
Window seats reduce disturbance & you can rest your head
Loose clothing which avoids restriction of blood flow
Recline as much as possible & be as comfortable as conditions permit
Keep hydrated: don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine
Avoid heavy meals
Bring your own pillow
- Drinking before bedtime
If you’re going to drink before bed, consume herbal teas such as chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, lime flowers, valerian and other restful blends.
Stress & Circadian rhythm support:
Adaptogens: (taken in the daytime)
– Licorice (avoid high doses if have hypertension) – Panax Ginseng (avoid during acute infection)
– Siberian Ginseng
-BioCare – AD 206 or AD intensive
-BioCare- NT complex or NT intensive
Nervous system support, relaxation:
Calming herbs – (taken in the evening)
- Feed sleep with magnesium and calcium
Disturbances in deep sleep are related to calcium deficiency and magnesium is associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. Magnesium also helps to calm the nervous system and regulate the body’s response to stress which is particularly helpful if your cortisol levels are out of balance. It can be a great help for anyone struggling to get off to sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping it might be useful to increase these foods in your diet:
- High magnesium foods include dark leafy greens such as spinach, nuts, seeds (pumpkin), fish (mackerel, tuna, turbot), beans (lentils), whole grains (brown rice), avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, and more.
- Calcium helps the brain to use tryptophan to manufacture the sleep inducing substance melatonin (as discussed on previous slide). Calcium rich foods include: Most calcium is found in dark leafy greens (watercress) and dairy, greens (to include broccoli, green snap beans), almonds and fish with bones in (sardines, tinned salmon, anchovies).
- Choose your amino acids with care
Two key amino acids can have a significant effect on your sleep.
L-tryptophan is a sleep-promoting substance and the body converts it to serotonin, the good mood neurotransmitter which gives a sense of calm. Some of this serotonin is then converted into melatonin, the hormone that manages your sleep-wake cycle that can have a sedative effect.
Other foods that are high in tryptophan include: chicken, oats, milk, fish, dairy, nuts and seeds, bananas, kale, honey, eggs. So incorporate plenty of these into your dinner to get you feeling sleepy by bedtime.
Conversely, L-tyramine has a stimulating effect. The body uses it to create noradrenaline, the neurotransmitter which promotes alertness, arousal and motivation. Commonly found in processed meats such as bacon or salami and aged cheese – this may be at the root of the folk theory that cheese gives you nightmares!
- Turn off the tech
Blue Light – Humans are meant to sleep in the dark. Light exposure messes with the body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. Disrupting this process affects your circadian rhythm.
Digital devices have a blue light which passes through the retina in our eye to the hypothalamus. This is an area of the brain that controls several sleep activities. This unnatural light source has the same disruptive effect.
TURN OFF TECHNOLOGY – Strategies
- The No. 1 way to get better sleep: Turn off the technology, especially in the sanctity of your bedroom.
- Unwind before bedtime. Have a transition period, about 30 minutes, of technology-free time before you go into your bedroom for sleep.
- Shut down your bedroom. Make where you sleep an electronic-free zone. Put caps over your electric outlets to discourage plugging in for a recharge.
- Disconnect your kids and charge their devices away from their bedrooms. A TV in your child’s bedroom has a negative effect on sleep quality. Give him or her a relaxing book to read before bed instead of the remote.
- Smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep. Because they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep. Smartphones have been found to have more negative effect than other electronic devices, such as laptops and tablets.
- Sleep hygiene
Step 1: Develop a bedtime routine
The best thing here is a series of quiet calming activities that are performed in the same way and at the same time each night when sleep is approaching. Routines are helpful to adults just like they are to children.
Step 2: Adhere to an appropriate sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps synchronise your sleep time with your internal body clock. It helps your body feel prepared to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
Step 3: Create a comfortable sleep environment
It sounds obvious but some people don’t realise just how important being comfortable is when it comes to sleeping. Hotter rooms, uncomfortable beds, lack of space, excessive noise – these can all prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Step 4: Think of your bedroom as your sleep sanctuary
Don’t spend excessive time in your bed doing work or watching TV.
The bed should be reserved for only two activities: sleep and sex.
All other activities should be performed outside your room, not just outside your bed.
You want to condition your mind to think about sleep when you walk into your bedroom, not about your latest work project.