The Importance of Sleep

Sleeping Woman

Originally published in the November edition of the Stockbridge Spotlight

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.  A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health – in fact, it’s just as important as eating healthily and exercising.

However, many aspects of the Western environment are interfering with natural sleep patterns – shift patterns, jobs that require communication with people in different time zones, waking in the night and looking at a mobile phone/electronic device, or maybe something closer to home?

Studies show that people are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.

Nevertheless, there’s no universal definition for sleep quality or how much is enough for each person – some people need a full 8 hours, others manage very well with much less.  Every individual has unique needs and preferences, and the answer to how much sleep you need is no different.

Good quality sleep may be defined as how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up during the night, how rested you feel the next day or how much time you spend in different stages of sleep.

Because good sleep is necessary to so many aspects of good health, you should make getting enough each night a high priority.

I list below some clinically proven effects of poor sleep:

  • Weight gain.
  • Concentration, problem solving skills & poor memory are adversely affected
  • Depression and heightened anxiety
  • The immune function is lowered – increased common colds can result
  • Poor sleep affects the body’s anti-inflammatory responses and is strongly linked to IBS, Fibromyalgia, ME, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Relationships – researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognise important social cues & process emotional information

What things can you do to enhance your sleeping pattern?

Here are a few evidence-based tips to sleep better at night.

Follow a regular schedule: Going to bed at the same time each night helps regulate your inner clock. Following an irregular sleep schedule has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration as it interrupts your circadian rhythm.

Create a calming bedtime routine: Adopting a relaxing routine before bed can help you get in the mood to sleep. For example, listening to calming music has been shown to help improve sleep quality

Minimize caffeine, alcohol and nicotine: Studies have linked caffeine, alcohol and nicotine use to poorer sleep quality. Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening

Reduce your use of electronics: The excessive use of cell phones and electronics has been associated with poor sleep quality. Even exposure to bright room lights before bed may negatively affect your sleep

Rule out a sleep disorder – If you’ve always struggled with sleep, it may be wise to consult with your doctor.

However, sometimes it is worry, anxiety, apprehension, work stress, unhappiness, depression, overwhelm, sadness or a feeling of powerlessness that keep people awake in the wee small hours.  Sometimes you don’t even know what it is. Sometimes you just accept it as just habit – this is just how it is.

These are the things that hypnotherapy can help you with.

If you would like to call me for a free telephone or in-person consultation to find out more then do get in touch.