It’s not new news that we need our sleep. But city life is demanding and trying to juggle work, fitness and a social life normally means that one aspect of our health – our sleep – gets deprived. The National Sleep Foundation say the recommended amount of sleep is anywhere between 7 and 9 hours, and that it is different for everyone. The reason it is different is due to something named your circadian rhythm. This is your basic body clock and is located with a part of your brain named your Hypothalamus.
Our ancestry as hunter gatherers means that we sleep when it is dark, and wake when it is light. Your body also helps play its part in this and so when darkness falls, cells located within your eye region signal the Hypothalamus that this is happening. This then causes a release of Melatonin providing you with the feeling of being tired. When working life or social life disturbs these, we often are awake when really, we should be asleep.
Prolonged lack of sleep can affect your immunity, blood pressure and heart rate. Below are some useful tools and tips for catching those Z’s!
The App: Just Breathe by Michael James Wong
The Playlist: Fall Asleep With Third Space
Your Training: Exercise stimulates the autonomic nervous system and until it settles down, you can’t sleep. So finish your training at least two hours before going to bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Your Diet: Top-up on tryptophan. The amino acid tryptophan produces two hormones essential for sleep: Serotonin, which promotes slumber and regulates mood, and melatonin, which helps control your sleep/wake cycle. Swap your evening glass of milk for a bowl of unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with a handful of pumpkin seeds to really get you ready for bed.
The tips you know but neglect:
- Get into a routine and try as best you can to stick to it.
- Stop using electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom as lights can affect your sleep.
- Have one day a week (most usually at the weekend) without an alarm and let your body wake naturally.
- Don’t rely on caffeine to help boost your alertness. In the short term it may feel helpful but chronic ingestion of low dosages of caffeine can be harmful in the long run.
- Regular exercise helps you sleep.
If you are struggling with sleep, or would like to speak to a consultant contact Third Space Medical.