Sleep is an important part of living healthily, but do you realise how fundamental it is? Poor sleep, delayed bedtime or varying bedtimes can all contribute to illness.
While a small number of people get by with four or five hours of sleep a night, the vast majority of adults need seven to eight and time you go to sleep also matters.
Get to sleep before 11pm to let your body repair
The saying goes “An hour before 12 is better than two hours after”. Perhaps an old wife’s tale. But in many traditions it is shown to be true. Ayurvedic medicine tells us to go to bed at sunset and get up just before sunrise (quite hard in the Irish Winter, but a variation works).
There are two types of sleep – REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. Non-REM allows the body carry out many restorative functions, releasing hormones which help the body rebuild and correct any damage done during the day.
Between 11pm and 3am is Restorative Sleep
Non-REM and REM cycle through at regular intervals, but between 11pm and 3am it is mainly non-REM sleep and from 3am until 7am mainly REM.
This means if you go to bed after midnight, you will have less non-REM sleep and, by definition, less restoration and repair in your body.
High fibre diet – better sleep; Low fat/high protein fall asleep faster
What you eat also impacts on sleep quality. A diet high in fibre results in more non-REM sleep (more repair) and people fall asleep faster on a low saturated fat/higher protein diet.
Varying or delaying bedtime leads to weight gain
Another study showed varying bedtime or delaying bedtime was associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance – in other words weight gain.
I have seen high powered executives boasting about how little sleep they need; or disregarding their need for sleep. Sleep is a critical part of our body’s recovery mechanism. Not listening to this need for sleep and, perhaps, believing in your own infallibility can lead to illness down the road.
Make sleep your priority in 2016
Sleep is not easy for everyone and there are very good herbal formulations to help as well as naturopathic and nutritional aids. So please take care of yourself, if you can’t get sleep, make an appointment and put sleep as your priority in 2016! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.