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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Here are the twelve handy tips for getting a good night's sleep

If there is a single issue that most affects health, lack of sleep, or poor sleep, arguably ranks highest.  It is the one issue that people always seem to raise with me when seeking assistance with improving health.

Here are the twelve handy tips for getting a good night's sleep:

Regularity is set from an early age!
  1. Go to bed at the same time every night, including weekends: Have the lights out by 10pm and aim to be asleep by 11pm. This is most important because this ensures that growth hormone is released during the early hours of the morning. Growth hormone is required to peak during deep sleep for there to be healing and restoration.
  2. Get up at the same time every morning, including weekends: Be out of bed by 7am.  Stoke the metabolic fires by starting the day with some invigorating exercise such as a brisk walk outside in the sunlight.  Say "Hi!" to the neighbourhood.
  3. Get bright, unfiltered sunlight on your face first thing in the morning: Full spectrum sunlight on your face stimulates the breakdown of the hormone, melatonin.  Melatonin is what makes you sleepy and you don't want that during the day do you?  So, this is why is really important that you get outside and do your exercise, rather than being indoors.  Wear a hat but dispose of those high-fashion sunnies please!
  4. Eat, drink, exercise and poo at the same times during every day: Every process in your body operates to a circadian clock.  Here is an excellent explanation of your circadian clock.  You set your circadian cycle by being regular - habitual.  When your clock is properly synchronised, you will sleep well, never need an alarm clock to wake, you will be full of energy during the day and you will be highly resistant to disease.
  5. Go outside and get bright sunlight on your face at regular times of the day: Bright sunlight, even during winter, tells the brain to be bright and active and not go to sleep.  Lack of sunshine is depressing.  Commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  6. Use a full spectrum light machine if you work under artificial lights:  But these lights do not replace getting outdoors at regular intervals daily!  They are an additional measure.
  7. Avoid bright light at dusk and during the evening: During the day, the brain stores melatonin.  As dusk sets in, the brain senses this by the changing light on the eyes and begins to release melatonin into the circulation.  Melatonin begins to prepare the body for sleep.
  8. Do not eat or drink much at all within 2-3 hours of sleep: A small snack is fine leading up to bedtime; but please avoid going to bed with a full tummy.  Spicy foods and red wine seem to be the worst culprits for keeping one awake.
  9. Turn the brain off before bed time: That means not sitting at your computer doing work, or having a heavy discussion about life's woes (such as the family's money problems!).  Chill out.  Relax.  Tune out. Read a relaxing book.
  10. Other than sex, do not work out within an hour or so of sleep:  Sex is the exception: most people find that satisfying sex is the perfect knock-out drug!
  11. Have a magnesium and zinc supplement at bedtime:  These may be a godsend for getting to sleep!  Magnesium and zinc may help the brain and muscles relax.  This is the best combination magnesium and zinc supplement for the job: One scoop in a glass of water before bed.  Give it a go for a few months.  It may need some help from a little extra calcium at bedtime, but not usually.
  12. Sleep in a quiet cool bed in a cool room: We all know it - a hot and muggy night, or too many blankets on the bed make for a poor sleep!  The body temperature has to drop for a deep sleep, so keep cool. This also means avoiding hot baths immediately before bed.  If you must have a hot bath or shower before bed, finish with a cold blast of water!
Sorry, I have not mentioned anything about the dreaded snoring.  That's a whole subject on its own which I will deal with in another article later on.

Here's some early Feedback from a "practical expert" on sleeping issues:

"Hi Gary 
Covers most things I can think of, partner/pet disturbance can be an issue eg if partner has restless legs (put them on magnesium), lock the cat outside. When you do wake in the night do everything possible not to think about work or think on anything.
  I’ve been taking a cherryvite before bed and another one if I wake up during the night- seems to be working ok now."

About this website
The advice in these articles is given freely without promise or obligation.  Its all about giving you and your family the tools and information to take control of your health and fitness.

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