Did you know?
As many as 25%
of the UK adult population have a sleep disorder
resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness (1). Additionally many adults do not have a bedtime routine and often go to bed stressed, thus sleeping poorly.
Recently in our clinic we have seen an increasing number of stressed individuals with disrupted sleep patterns, as well as children with sleeping difficulties. Research suggests that children's disrupted sleep is often due to their parents' poor attitudes towards sleep, and often when asked they also have difficulty sleeping (2).
And so, in an effort to help you sleep more soundly & wake up feeling freshed, here is a reminder about the importance of sleep and the need for a good bedtime routine. The Science behind sleep..
During sleep we release a hormone (Norepinephrine) which tells our brains to produce a chemical called Melatonin.
Melatonin is the key to a successful nights sleep as it coordinates our sleep cycles.
In order to produce Melatonin, our bodies need a perfect environment including darkness & relaxation
. However, due to our lifestyles not all of us have adequate levels of Melatonin, which prevents us from a restful night (3).
Your Melatonin levels will be low as a result of excess levels of a stress response chemical called Cortisol.
Cortisol levels increase when we:
- are emotional, worried or anxious,
- have experienced trauma (physically or emotionally),
- are over worked & lack sleep,
- have irregular blood sugar.
If any of the above apply to you, then it's important you work out a bedtime routine.
Scientists have found that preparing your body and mind before you go to bed is essential in giving your body the correct signal for a good nights sleep (4).
This involves: + allowing time to relax & reduce stress before bed + avoiding sugary snacks & stimulants, e.g. coffee, alcohol + avoiding bright lights including TV/computers/phone screens before bed
During the night our bodies are then able to physically restore & repair themselves, conserve energy & allow our brains to develop, so that tomorrow we can be even more productive and focused than we were today. Lara :) Useful references:
If you suffer from sleep disorder see the BBC's link below for some great tips:
(1) BBC – Science & Nature (2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/articles/advicetips.shtml
(2) SLEEP – The easy way to peaceful nights.
(B. Hollyer & L. Smith, 1996)
(4) The Functions of Sleep (E. Hartmann, 1973)