Government guidelines recommend adults have between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night but how many of us actually get that much shut eye? Daily stresses whether they be work, family or money related can have a huge impact on our bodies and minds and often leave us unable to sleep when we need it most.
How does lack of sleep effect your body?
The below, but not limited to, are some of the effects a lack of sleep has on the body.
- Your Immunity – Do you constantly feel ill and fatigued and pick up every cold in the office? Sleep deprivation can kick your immunity out of sync leaving you susceptible to infections
- Weight Gain – Your bodies stock of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, diminishes with lack of sleep all the while your body increases its level of the hormone Ghrelin which stimulates hunger. Studies have shown that this is evident in people who have less that 7 hours sleep per night. So ladies and gentleman, in the run up to Summer make sure that sleep plays just as an important part to your health kick as your diet and fitness. What better reason for a weekend lie in? *Refer to my previous post on how sleep can help you detox
- Messes with your mood – Given that a single sleepless night can make you irritable and moody the following day, it’s not surprising that chronic sleep deprivation may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety
- Can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes – Studies have suggested that people who usually sleep less than 5 hours a night have an increased risk of having or developing diabetes. – It seems that missing out on deep sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body processes glucose – the high-energy carbohydrate that cells use for fuel
- Decreases sex drive – Men and women who don’t get enough quality sleep have lower libidos and less of an interest in sex, research shows. No one wants this so make sure you get that extra shut eye!
(Source – NHS)
How to catch up on lost sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate – getting more sleep.
It won’t happen with a single early night. If you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take several weeks.
Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or two of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clocks allowed!).
Expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.
There are lots of way you can detox your sleep and re-set your body clock
Caffeine – Switch to decaf coffee or better still, naturally caffeine free herbal teas like Peppermint tea in the afternoons or try Neals Yard Organic Night Time Tea. Caffeine that is drunk after 3pm can still be active in your body by bedtime leaving you unable to switch off and relax.
Blue Light Devices – The light in devices such as a mobile phones or tablet can make our brain believe it is still day time. This can have the same effect as caffeine in not allowing your brain to switch off. Try to avoid using up to two hours before bed.
Social Media and News outlets – Ever check your Facebook feed or read the news at 9pm and still find yourself scrolling through at 11pm? I am so guilty of this but it is a habit I am trying to curb. As with blue light devices it is important to limit your activity with social media. It is important to go to sleep with a clear mind.
Jot It Down – Is your mind throwing to-do list items at you and the worry that you’ll forget them by the morning is keeping you up? Keep a notepad by your bed to jot them down – don’t use your phone!
Noise and Light – You will always get your best sleep in a dark and quiet environment. If you live by a noisy and busy road try using some foam earplugs to block out the noise. If you can’t invest in black out blinds then a sleep mask is your new best friend. Try adding some drops of lavender oil to it.
Cool Down – Make sure your room is not too hot. If you’re too warm you’ll be restless throughout the night. Open a window to let the fresh and cool air in and swap the duvet for a sheet in the Summer months.
Mediation / White Noise Apps – When I’m struggling to drift off I use a meditation app. My favourite is Beditiations. It has a number of meditations including one for Insomniacs and one to helping you quit smoking. The aSleep app is particularly good for sleep sounds like white noise and rain, which is my favourite – hate by day, love by night!
Essential Oils and Pillow Sprays – I have a bit of a love affair with lavender. I pour copious amounts in to my evening bath with some Epsom salts and rub a Weleda lavender Oil in to my neck and shoulders when I need some extra relaxation. Try Neals Yard Remedy Roll On to help relax you at night by rolling on your pulse points and behind your ears. I am obsessed with This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, I am convinced it helps send me off in to deep sleep. I bought some for my mum and even she is a convert!
Why not give all of the above a try for seven nights and keep track of your progress in a journal? I would love to hear how you get on, please feel free to email or comment your experience or any extra tips you may have for a restful nights sleep.
Sweet dreams xx