You should spend about a third of your life doing it… but are you getting enough sleep?
Why do you need to sleep?
Sleep plays a crucial role in your overall health and wellbeing. It impacts everything from brain function to heart health, bodyweight to mood.
Without enough sleep, your body can go into a pre-diabetic state, and makes you feel hungry, even if you’ve already eaten. Further, consistent sleep deprivation can raise your blood pressure and make you a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke. If you are getting less than six hours each night, I would consider this sleep deprivation.
What’s the ideal amount of sleep?
The recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7 to 9 hours, but in my opinion, it is the hours before midnight that count. This is because our body does the majority of its recovery and detoxification during the hours of 9pm to 3am. So the earlier you can get to bed, the better.
Exactly how much is right for each person is up to the individual, but a good rule to follow is that if you feel tired when you wake up in the morning, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.
How do your hormones affect sleep?
Hormones play an integral role in your sleep patterns, which is why having a regular sleep routine can lead to improved health and wellbeing.
Here’s a quick rundown of how your hormones affect your sleep:
- 9pm-11pm – your endocrine system (adrenals) begins its daily recovery
1am-3am –your liver is detoxing, which is often why people wake up at this time of morning.
4:30am – your temperature is at it’s lowest. Your body begins to produce the thyroid hormone and your temperature begins to rise.
6:30am – your adrenal glands release a hit of cortisol to wake you up. You should be at your most alert at this time of day.
9pm – your cortisol drops steadily until this time, at which your brain begins to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes you drowsy and ready for sleep.
Natural remedies for sleep
- Create a healthy sleep routine – go to bed at the same time each night, wake up at the same time each morning, and ensure you get at least 7 to 9 hours sleep per night.
- Avoid electrical devices like computers, mobile phones and iPads after 7pm. The light emitted from these devices tricks your body into thinking it’s still daylight, impacting your melatonin production.
- Ensure your room is as dark as possible. Even a little bit of light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin.
- Avoid overheating – the ideal temperature for sleep is 18.5 degrees.
- Avoid exercising or eating a big meal before bed – both of these activities raise your body’s core temperature. However, you should exercise throughout the day to decrease stress and ensure you’ve expended enough energy.
- Reading before bed is one of the best ways to quieten your mind, reduce cortisol levels and start to encourage the release of melatonin. Likewise, listening to relaxation music or meditating before bed can also be helpful.
- Avoid caffeine after midday to ensure you’re not overstimulated before bedtime. Caffeine can override melatonin and make you ignore your body’s cries for sleep.
- Avoid alcohol at least four hours before bed – using a glass of wine to relax and de-stress is actually detrimental to your sleep. Instead, try one of the methods suggested above for reducing your cortisol and encouraging melatonin production. If you like a drink before bed, camomile tea is a great relaxant.
- Have a small protein snack before bed – it stabilises blood sugar and can help with melatonin production.
- Take a high-quality magnesium supplement before bed
- To encourage healthy sleep patterns, we recommend our Mullen Health Sleep Tonic before bed. It contains kava, valerian and passionflower, which are all powerful sedative herbs.
- If you suffer from insomnia, a great natural supplement to take is melatonin. This will help to retrain your body to know when it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is also great for jetlag.
Yours in health,
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