Sleep – where are you?

sleep problemsStress is the enemy of a good night’s sleep and there is plenty of it around at present. It’s such a vicious circle – you feel stressed, you can’t sleep, so you feel more stressed until you feel unwell.

According to Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, co-founder of The London Sleep Centre and neuropsychiatrist, ‘When our internal neuro-chemical systems are working normally, they regulate biological processes like sleep, appetite, mood and energy levels. If we are stressed, the Adreno-Cortical System is dysregulated and our energy sources are diverted, resulting in sleep disruption and mood changes.

‘Before we sleep it’s important to de-stress, reducing levels of cortisol, and replacing them with increased levels of melatonin, the hormone released in the brain that signals to the body it’s time to sleep.’

Tips for improving sleep

• Make sure your days as active as they can be – exercise every day, and try to get outside for some fresh air.
• Relax before going to bed – yoga and meditation really help and have become much more popular during lockdown. Alternatively, lie down for at least 10 minutes, listen to relaxing music and breathe deeply.
• Avoid watching stimulating or frightening films or television programmes just before bedtime, particularly in the bedroom.
• According to Performance and Purpose Coach Mark Whittle, ‘Turn off all ‘blue light’ (from laptops, tablets and phones) 90 minutes before bed. Blue light supresses the release of melatonin in our body, impacting our natural circadian rhythm and impacting quality of sleep.
• Coffee, tea or colas can disrupt your sleep due to the caffeine which stimulates the mind. Alcohol can lead to disturbed nights too.
• Herbal remedies might help  – any of these ingredients are helpful: Valerian, hops, Passiflora, lavender and Ashwaganda. Look for Rescue Peaceful Night Capsules (with Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Rescue(R) Night Flower Essences, Rescue Dream Balm , A. Vogel’s Dormeasan, Kalms or Pukka’s Night Time. If you are on medication, check with a doctor, pharmacist or the manufacturer (of herbal medicines) before taking herbal remedies.
• Magnesium tablets taken in the evening help to relax the body and encourage us to sleep.
• Try using ear plugs if your partner snores.
• If light outside is a problem, you could change to darker curtains or blinds that block out the dawn or street lights.

Sleep well!

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/30april2020

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