Sleep is god. Go Worship.
If you want to :
- loose weight
- think clearer
- be more creative
- improve concentration
- improve mood
- improve problem solving
- feel happier
Then one of the most important things to sort out is your sleep
When patients come in feeling tired all the time, or having difficulty sleeping, there are a number of things we check and and advise.
Sometimes the issue is stress, which the person may not be aware of. Sometimes its alcohol too frequently which disrupts sleep, sometimes its certain medical conditions.
There are certain medical conditions whereby sleep disruption, or extreme daytime fatigue, forms an integral part of the condition, and therefore a trip to a doctor is warranted for example depression, sleep apnoea, schizophrenia, primary insomnia to name a few.
My other blog posts on mindfulness are worth a read- if you up all night worried about various things that never happen, mediation can help sort some of that out during the day.
The Brain and Sleep.
The major part of the brain involved is the pineal gland ……
The pineal gland releases a hormone called melatonin which helps us have a restful sleep.
Melatonin is released by our body at night to help sleep and its concentrations in our body are highest throughout the night, if we are in darkness. Once we are in bright light, melatonin concentration starts to decrease.
Therefore bright light in the evening will delay melatonin release and its actions.
Short sleep does not allow recovery of our hormonal profiles that aid appetite control .. For e.g
- ghrelin is released ( causes carbohydrate craving)
- cortisol is released ( stress hormone – can lead to central weight gain amongst other things)
The net result of poor sleep is
- less creativity
- poor concentration
- increased desire to fuel the body with caffeine and carbs – weight gain
Sleep Duration Recommendations
In preparation for a nights sleep, we should begin in the morning. I’m not saying you wake up and get stressed about following nights sleep, but just develop a few habits or break a few habits that will over time increase the quality of your sleep.
To get your brain back to a regular sleep/wake cycle – bright lights in the morning- this encourages melatonin to drop.
Have your coffee early.. get that stimulation in early- any tea coffee, coke after lunch and it will delay our ability to relax as the evening progresses.
Anything that will stimulate your brain – caffeine or nicotine- try to avoid as the afternoon evening progresses.
Lets say you had a big day planned- the night before you would try to go to bed early , have everything prepared for the morning to so that you can get up and go with a pep to your step.
The same is true for sleep. So if you are conscious about what you are eating and drinking with respect to getting asleep that night you can develop good sleep hygiene.
Things to consider ….
Dim lighting for a 1/2 an hour to an hour BEFORE you go to bed.
Avoid a big light blast in the bathroom before bed.
Chamomile tea before bed- use two teabags !
Have the room slightly cool– let a bit of air in.
Put your phone on airplane mode. Cannot emphasise this enough. In particular, worth keeping in mind if you are a teenager or if you have teenagers, that seem to be a bit more tired than teenagers usually are(they do need more sleep as it is). Its a habit we have all developed and our brains are bombarded with light and emotion and stimulation from whatever we are watching or reading.
Magnesium – magnesium is involved in muscle relaxation and helps us to have a more relaxed sleep. Studies have shown it improves sleep quality in older populations. Need to be careful with magnesium if you are on certain medications or have certain cardiac conditions- click here to read more and ask you doctor !
Melatonin– Not available in Ireland except on prescription – but available over the counter as a food supplement in the USA and Canada. It is not addictive, but can have some side effects, and it can interact with some medications. Click here to read more about it.
Alcohol-will sedate you and tip you off to sleep but if we are using it every-night to get to sleep, our sleep quality is diminished and we will feel tired and not refreshed. Not effective for sleep!
In the morning bright light is good as it it decreases the melatonin back down to normal levels.
Sleep is good.
Sleep is god in fact, worship it.
Dr. C x
P.S – I have been working on a supplement for cholesterol in the background and hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to share that with you. Those of you that have signed up via email to the blog will get a special discount :-))