baby sleeping
baby sleeping

Sleep Hygiene

VITAL FOR WELLBEING

Sleep takes us to a mysterious change in our consciousness and is outside of our control.  It is something many people, particularly women, complain they don’t get enough of and yet it is vital for our health and wellbeing.  For sure, you only need a run of a few sleep deprived nights to know your brain, your body and your emotions just don’t function properly without it.

“The loss of one night’s sleep is followed by ten days of inconvenience”
– Chinese proverb

Furthermore, prolonged sleep issues can lead to long-term health problems.  So, it is very important we address insmonia concerns as soon as they arise.

THE SLEEP CYCLE

Whilst asleep, our heart rate reduces, our body temperature drops and our brain activity changes.  Generally speaking, a good night sleep would consist of five or six sleep cycles, each lasting around 90 minutes.

Our circadian rhythm, or “body clock” is the 24 hour cycle that regulates all our biological and physiological processes.  According to “Get a Good Nights Sleep” by the Sleep Council,  in ideal situations, the circadian rhythm will naturally rise in the early morning, promoting wakefulness and alertness.  And will reach a peak in the evening.

After a waking period of around 15 hours the pressure to sleep increases, in other words, we get tired. As it gets dark, the circadian rhythm drops to the lowest level and helps to maintain sleep.

Did you know that constant disruption of your circadian rhythm can detrimentally damage your health?  Alarmingly, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer have all been linked to insomnia.

TRADITIONAL CHINESE ORGAN BODY CLOCK

Interestingly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, each “organ” of the body is attributed to certain times of the day and night.  Furthermore, it is believed that each organ has its point of highest energy and lowest energy throughout the 24-hour period.

This 24 hour cycle is believed to help us know when to exercise, eat, have sex, rest and sleep.

For example, sleep disturbance between 1-3am is the time of the Liver and a time when the body should be alseep.  During this time, toxins are released from the body and fresh new blood is “made”. Consequently, if you find yourself waking during this time, you could have too much yang energy or problems with your liver or detoxification pathways.  Noteworthy is this is also the time of anger, frustration and rage so be aware when you feel yourself “boiling over” about the perceived injutices of the day, it might just be the time of the night influencing how you feel.

more information can be found here.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but the average requirement is around 7-8 hours per night for an adult.  This article gives more information about how you decide how much is right for you.

CAUSES OF SLEEPLESSNESS

It is important not to panic about how much you are sleeping as this can make the issue worse.  Plus, it is common to have bouts of sleeplessness.  However, if you feel you have a chronic sleep issue, it is important to understand the reasons for this and take action to address it.

There is a plethora of information on the internet about sleep hygiene and questions to ask yourself about your own sleep habits.  As you will probably read for yourself, in most of the literature available, common insomnia causes are noted as:

  • worry and stress
  • health problems
  • environmental
  • excess stimulus
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle.

So, it is always good to have an honest conversation with yourself or a qualified counsellor or coach in a safe space about what might be keeping you awake.  Of note is that CBT coaching is known to be particularly effective in this space.

RELAXATION SUPPORT

A “racing mind” is cited as the most common issue for sleep deprivation.

  • “I worry about what happened today and then what I’ve got on tomorrow”
  • “I panic about how long I’ve been lying awake”
  • “Trivial things of no importance go through my mind”
  • “I worry about what the future might hold”
  • “I think about things that happened in the past.”

Undoubtedly, relaxation can help you overcome the tension and anxiety often felt as a consequence of insomnia.   Those experiencing disturbed sleep have trouble unwinding sufficiently to get a good night’s rest.  And for many, excessive mental activity and these racing thoughts prevent them from falling asleep, or wake them up frequently or too early. Therefore it’s important to know how to properly relax.

YANG SHENG

In Chinese Medicine, the art of self-care is called “Yang Sheng”.

Yang Sheng is the art of nourishing Life. It is the foundation of health in Chinese medicine and the basis of Taoist cultivation. Yang Sheng includes qigong, diet, sleep, meditation, and living in accord with the cycles of nature.

Nourishing life is the foundation of the Taoist practice and lifestyle.  Because it means living with natural rhythms of sleep, diet, physical and mental exercise and lifestyle.

Interesingly, for those who practice Yang Sheng, a typical pre-sleep routine includes:

  • Settling the emotions before bed
  • Eating early (not late in the evening), avoid rich food at later meals (and walk at least 100 paces after eating)
  • Not drinking strong tea in the evening
  • Sleeping in a side-lying (foetal) position
  • Soaking feet in hot water for 15 minutes or so before bed
  • Avoiding having pillows too high, draughts, sleeping with the mouth open, strenuous exercise in the evening
  • For older people: Sleeping alone.
TREATMENTS

Massage is of course an excellent way to relax, and along with Acupuncture, Reiki, Reflexology and Hypnotherapy we offer a full range of complementary therapy treatments which can help you.

If you feel you would benefit from a helping hand to kick start your path to better sleep hygiene, please Contact Us for more information.

Tuck Yourself In!

Tuck is a community devoted to promoting sleep health awareness.   They promote sleep as an important part of improving productivity and focus, but that’s not all it can do to help you get ahead. Check out their Guides on how our sleep habits influence our everyday life, available here:

How sleep health can improve creativity

The relationship between productivity and sleep

How to wake up feeling energized

 

Sleep well!

Kate