Perhaps the most underrated element to our health is SLEEP. Many of us try and squeeze out as many “awake” hours as we can, but often we compromise on the required 8 hours of quality sleep.
Based on the popular book “Why you sleep” by Dr.Matthew Walker, a good night’s sleep requires four elements or “pillars”.
- Duration – a sufficient amount of sleep
- Continuity – uninterrupted sleep
- Regularity – a regular pattern of falling asleep and waking up
- Depth – the electrical quality of sleep waves eg REM and NonREM
When any of these pillars are compromised, there is a negative effect on the sense of “restoration” and overall health.
When your body and brain are awake during the day, you are generally quite “busy” expending your finite amount of daily energy.
But when you’re asleep, your brain and body are quite busy doing something else… restoring your energy levels, your immune levels and repairing anything that needs to be repaired.
Your sleep quality determines how well you are able to repair your body and reset your brain. But not only is it important for repairing, but it is also important for converting what you have learned during the day into memories. So poor sleep = poor memory.
Sleep is also critical in seeking and destroying damaged and mutated cells; so much so that if you are a night-shift worker (which is gererally associated with decreased sleep quality) you are more likely to get CANCER! This research is so shocking that it gives us a new appreciation for sleep.
So, what can you do to improve your sleep?
Here are some tips for better sleep, better recovery and better performance!
- Get to bed early! Your best restorative sleep is in the earlier part of your night.
- Reduce psycho-active ingredients such as coffee, especially after 10am.
- Learn to meditate
- Decrease your exposure to artificial lights after the sun goes down
- Use blue-light blockers from 7pm
- Listen to calming music before bed (try binaural sounds)
- Exercise in the morning
- Get an appropriate amount of sunlight when you wake up
- Reduce your intake of alcohol and sugar
So next time you’re deciding whether or not to watch just ONE MORE EP on Netflix, spare a thought for perhaps the most important part of your day – your sleep.