BY EOIN EVERARD
Good sleep is essential for quality of life. We need good sleep for optimal health. Good sleep helps repair and strengthen our muscles. When we sleep we release growth hormone. This is the drug that most cheating athletes use and we produce it naturally! It helps to repair and grow muscles thus helping increase our strength and endurance. In addition to helping with muscular repair good sleep can also help ward off colds and flu.
A study by Cohen 2005 showed that when 153 people were exposed to the common cold virus those who on average slept less than 7 hours per night were 3 times more likely to catch the virus. Other studies have shown that those with poor sleep patterns use the doctor and healthcare 11% more than those who get enough sleep.
Other proposed benefits include improved memory, creativity and even longer life! So what can we do to ensure we give ourselves the best chance of having a good nights sleep.
1. Have a set bed time. This is essential as it allows the body to get its carcadiam rhythm to a regular state. Your carcadiam rhythm is what moves allows us to move through the different phases of sleep. Keeping this regular, waking and going to bed at roughly the same time allows us to get drowsy and fall into deep sleeps
2. Turn off ipods and phones about an hour before bed. Not only do these devices over stimulate us they actually stop melatonin (the chemical that makes us feel tired) being produced! The blue light that is omitted from these devices stops melatonin being converted from serotonin. The result? We go to bed and don’t feel tired. Read a book and unwind an hour before bed.
3. Do not have overhead lights on at night. Try if at all possible, to have lamps on. This replicates the sun going down where light overhead replicates a high sun. Our bodies are very primitive and our friend melatonin doesn’t know the difference between artificial light and the sun unfortunately. Keep the light as low as possible as it approaches bed time.
4. For parents. Parents often find their sleep interrupted by infants and young children who wake several times during the night. To improve sleep quality, the National Sleep Foundation advises the following for tired parents: split child care into shifts to allow longer periods of sleep; keep the lights turned down during middle-of-the-night during nappy changes, making it easier for parents and baby to fall back to sleep; don’t have any TV or computers in your bedroom;
5. Exercise during the day. Exercise during the day to help improve sleep and create a relaxing bedtime routine for you. When we are tired we do not feel like exercising but by exercising or going for a walk we stimulate dopamine and other chemicals to help regulate our hormones and chemicals.
6. Don’t stress. Just lying in bed means you are getting good rest. It can take a while for good sleep habits to form. Do not worry if you are not getting the 7-9 hours you need initially. Or if you are waking up in the middle of the night. Persistence always pays in the long run.
With summer approaching more and more people are getting active. If you hear of trying to get active and wants to start with a check up to make sure they are not doing any harm.