Increasingly sleep research is revealing a myriad of essential processes that take place only when we are in our deep, restorative sleep phase. This is not dream-state otherwise known as REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), rather Delta sleep where we are physically paralysed and the body goes in to mending over-drive. So much restoration, renewal, cleansing and re-balancing goes on and in the process, we should be burning lots of fat – it’s a win win!
However, if you are not able to fully switch off at night, you may sleep, you may dream, but you may not ever reach this magic state of re-setting to enable you to start the next day refreshed and up to speed. Recent research has also shown that the processing of information and storing it as a long-term memory can only happen at a deep level of sleep.
In order to reach that essential state of sleep, the body needs to be able to produce enough melotonin, our sleep hormone. If you are stressed, anxious, busy-headed your body will struggle to produce sufficient melotonin and instead your brain will remain at least partially active due to an excess of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you are struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep, and if you are waking up feeling groggy, heavy-headed and in need of coffee to get going, follow these guidelines:
- Get plenty of exposure to bright light, preferably day / sunlight during the day.
- No caffeinated drinks after midday.
- Do not eat late at night. Aim for 3 hours from your last meal to bedtime.
- Avoid exposure to ALL computer devices, television, Smart phones and bright household lights
at least an hour before bed (change bedside lamp bulbs to red / orange bulbs and put a dimmer on your bathroom light.
- Do not exercise late in the day / evening unless it’s gentle, low impact exercise.
- Have a hot bath before bed with 2 handfuls of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) and a few drops of lavender essential oil to relax the body and mind.
- Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day so that your body gets in to a regular wake / sleep cycle.
- Ensure your bedroom is very dark. If this is not possible, wear comfortable eye shades.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool and switch off all electrical devices.
If you continue to struggle with sleep, make an appointment with a qualified nutritional therapist who will be able to help you with regulation of your sleep hormones.