Got the feeling I might hit a bit of a nerve with this article. With our modern lifestyle, we have made it very difficult to switch off properly when we get home at night. Your cell phone has now made it possible for you to keep up to date with emails, twitter feeds and facebook and thus never actually begin an evening slowdown.
Lack of sleep has been linked to:
- low immunity
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
The latest research indicates that you need more than 7 hours sleep a night but less than 9 hours sleep at night. Within our high entertainment and connected life style, it is believed that the average person is sleep deprived by as much as two weeks per year!
Sleep deprivation has been one of the tools in the torturers kit for years and yet many inflict that level of torture onto themselves. Both the Exxon oil spill and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster were caused by tired people behind the controls.
The part of your body that most needs sleep is your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus affects hormone production, tells the body when it’s time for bed and time to wake up, controls temperature, blood pressure and digestion. In other words, if the hypothalamus starts to malfunction, you start to malfunction.
Lack of sleep will impair your immune system which will open you up to more infections. An impaired immune system will increase your chance of getting cancer.
Weight Loss: A lack of sleep works on the central nervous system becoming more active and it inhibits the pancreas so that it doesn’t produce enough insulin affecting your sugar levels. Eve Van Cauter from the University of Chicago showed that just 6 days of 4 hours sleep a day almost made 11 healthy young males pre-diabetic.
Some practical steps.
1) Aim for at least seven hours of sleep. This might mean getting to bed a bit before that so that you can slow your body down a bit.
2) Try and get your room as dark as possible.
3) You will always sleep better in a cooler room. Maybe aim a fan at your bed. This will also prevent mosquitos from buzzing around and keeping you awake.
4) Take a magnesium supplement before going to sleep.
5) Don’t drink any caffeinated drink after 4 p.m. You might have to avoid caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m. if you are especially sensitive to it.
6) Keep a to-do list near your bed and get all the to-do items out of your head and onto the list.
7) Heat up some milk and drink before retiring.
8) Remember that you need extra rest if you are training hard. Your ability to rest and recover is as important as your ability to train hard.
Here’s to a good night sleep!