Sleep is number one on the list of health strategies, especially for the brain. Sleep affects our mood, focus, memory and physical well-being. When we do not get quality sleep, most everything else suffers; when we do, life is better. It’s that simple… but wait, it is not, especially when you have tried “everything” and just cannot get that quality sleep you know you need.
First, let’s look at how the lack of sleep affects our daily lives:
- Cranky, irritable
- Can’t focus or concentrate on tasks
- Distracted driving (and use of machinery)
- Constantly hungry, weight gain
- Relationships suffer (work and personal)
- Immune system is compromised – frequent colds/flu
- Ongoing sleeping problems can result in depression, cancer, heart disease and digestive issues.
When we get good quality sleep this is what to expect:
- Elevated mood
- More productive… clear thinking
- Happier, relationships improve
- Physical and mental health improves
- Life is better!
When we are ready to go to sleep, often our bodies and eyes are tired, but our brains are working overtime! We cannot shut it off like a light switch. Think of it as a dimmer switch that gradually gets quieter and quieter as the evening goes on. Therefore, all vigorous activities, both physical and mental should start to wind down after dinner.
Here are a few tips:
- Plan your less vigorous activities later in the evening
- Plan your next day the night before. Fill in your day planner either before you leave work or at the latest right after dinner. When your next day is planned you will be less likely to worry about it at 2 a.m
- Turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bed. These devices are very stimulating to the brain and can contribute to poor quality sleep if used right before bed. Instead, read something interesting and not too aggravating (no work-related reading before bed please!)
- Make your bedroom dark. Your brain’s sleep rhythm is on a 24-hour clock (circadian) and it needs dark for sleep (to produce melatonin*) and light for waking hours. In the morning, throw open the drapes or blind upon rising and it tells your brain to stop producing melatonin.
*Melatonin is a natural supplement but did you know it is a hormone? The danger of taking melatonin on a regular basis is that you don’t know how much you need, so you will likely take too much, and disturb the balance of your other hormones. Also the brain will stop producing its own if it is taken orally so that may cause a dependency!
There are other things you can do to get better sleep but the best way I know of is to practice these habits listed above, and come and see me for a Brainwave Optimization® consultation. This is the only process that helped me overcome my serious sleeping problems!