Why do we sleep?
To make sure our bodies don’t burn out through constant wear and tear, it’s important we rest on a regular basis. As a result, our bodies are fitted with biological clocks:
- The biological clock runs in sleep/wake cycles and works by tweaking certain hormone levels in our bodies.
- When our mental and physical function start to slip each day, the biological clock starts to wind down adrenaline levels, a naturally occurring stimulant. Ultimately, this persuades us that it’s time to head for bed.
- Once we’re asleep, the body can then carry out essential repair work.
- Growth hormones become more active during our horizontal hours, while the brain and eyes get the protein they need to function properly.
- As we come out of the sleep cycle, adrenaline kicks in again, speeding up body function and ultimately waking us.
How much do I need?
On average, between five and nine hours each night. It’s different for everyone, so check out the following steps to get yourself the sleep you need:
- Go to bed at the same time: Establish a routine. Hit the sack when you feel tired at the end of each day, so your body clock doesn’t have to work hard at getting you to stop.
- Get up when you wake up: If you stir before your alarm then get out of bed. Obeying your body clock might be a chore but you’ll feel more alert through the day.
- Get into shape: Regular work-outs reduce sleep-stopping adrenaline. It also drinks up excess energy that could leave you with your sheets in a tangle.
- Eat sensibly: Avoid eating last thing at night or going to bed hungry. If you’re stuffed or starving, your stomach won’t let you rest.
- Check out your bedding: For a good night’s sleep, osteopaths recommend a firm, level and supported mattress. Otherwise, a sheet of plywood underneath should provide the support you need. As sleep is best with room temperature between 15-21 c make sure your duvet isn’t too heavy. Also wear loose-fitting cotton night garments to allow your skin to breathe.
- Relax before bedtime: Herbal remedies can help reduce stress and get you into the right mind frame: basil, camomile, lettuce and marjoram all have a calming effect.
Too little sleep?
Here are the signs that you’re not getting enough:
- Fatigue: If you’re out of rhythm with your sleep cycle, then at some point in your waking hours your body will start begging you to lie down.
- You forget things, and make bad decisions: Fatigue affects your mental capacity. If you’re up and about during a sleep cycle then your ability to remember things starts to slip, and patience can wear thin.
- Your physical reactions slow down: When you’re tired, your body slows down in order to conserve energy. As a result, mundane tasks can become harder to carry out, while your reaction times take a nose dive.
- Your appearance starts to suffer: Your skin won’t get revitalised, your eyes lose their sparkle and your immune system weakens.
Updated on 25-Sep-2012