Remember when we used to fight with every ounce of our being to stay up late? Sleep was boring so it felt rebellious, grown up and fun to boast about a late bedtime.
Now it’s the holy grail of modern life. Who gets enough sleep and is there even such a thing as enough sleep? Poor sleep is the major cause of stress for so many people struggling with busy schedules and scattered routines.
Even being deprived of one hour of sleep a night will cause you to eat 40 per cent more the next day because you’ll seek out other ways to boost energy. Fast food, sugar, alcohol and milky coffee are all foods of choice for the sleep deprived, kicking off a vicious cycle that piles on the weight and worsens sleep quality.
That brings on less capacity to deal with stress, causing the body to produce more cortisol, raising insulin levels and increasing the chances of storing fat.
One of the most important findings is that, as there’s no lymphatic system in the brain, the thecal sac of fluid surrounding it drains during deep sleep. If chronically deprived of deep sleep, you’re much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or cognitive diseases.
It’s good to keep in mind that our body is governed by circadian rhythms which are set by light hitting our eyes. It’s the 24-hour body clock and explains why we suffer jet lag but also why certain habits interfere with our sleep quality.
Once it gets dark, your body starts preparing for sleep so if you start eating or exercising too late, your body will get confused and think it’s time to wake up. Looking at phones or televisions too late will also disrupt circadian rhythms.
The ways around this are:
n If you must wake up at 6am, try to get to bed by 10pm the night before.
n Make sure your bedroom is below 18 degrees because, if you’re hot, you’ll wake up.
n Alcohol may help you nod off but will almost certainly almost wake you up about 3am.
n Don’t drink too much fluid three to four ours before going to bed. Otherwise, your bladder will wake you up.
n Follow a routine of sleeping and rising at similar times each day.
n Avoid caffeine consumption after midday
n If you’re physically tired, you’ll sleep for eight hours but if you’re only mentally tired, chances are you won’t sleep as long.