Reboot your sleep to recharge your life

Reboot your sleep to recharge your life
Reboot your sleep to recharge your life

Nothing is right when we haven’t had enough good sleep.  The brain is slow and foggy, mood is irritable and the mind, troubled.  For the body, deprived of its time to rest, recuperate and heal, insufficient sleep can take a real toll, across all of its systems, from cardiac to endocrine.  A good night’s sleep is always wished for, and it’s common to feel lucky if we wake up in the morning refreshed and ready for action.  However, sleep studies have shown that regular peaceful slumber can be intentional – well-planned and well-executed.

Today, we live the busiest lifestyles in human history, and our sleep has declined in both quality and quantity.  Sufficient, restful sleep is every bit as important to our health and wellness as balanced nutrition and regular physical activity, and it deserves an equal share of our attention.  Just as we make sure we are eating well every day and scheduling our time for exercising, we need to embrace a night-time regime that enables a healthy sleep pattern.

Michele Carelse, Founder and CEO of Feelgood Health, the pioneering South African online health store, says, “Interestingly, although most parents prioritise their children’s sleep behaviour, as adults we often take the view that our sleep is left to chance.  Day by day, we just take what sleep we can get.  We may fight tiredness on weekday nights to get in a few more hours – working from home, watching TV late or scrolling through our phones.  We think: ‘I’ll make up for it and sleep in on the weekend.’ However, you never make up for lost sleep and there’s substantial evidence that shows the benefits of following a sleep routine as closely as possible, 7 days a week.”

Sometimes, late nights and too little sleep are not by choice.  Worry, anxiety and depression can all disrupt our sleep even though we’ve made sure we’re ready for bed at a reasonable time.  Michele says, “Preparing our minds for sleep is a vital component of a sleep routine.  Just as we wind down our bodies, we also need ways to let go the day’s stresses and relax our minds.”

Here are Michele’s Top Tips for Healthy Sleep:

Set yourself up for sleep success – “There are two things you can do during the day to support restful sleep at night.  It may not always be possible on workdays, but if you can, try to get outside in bright, natural daylight for at least an hour or preferably two.  Your body’s innate time-keeping is known as the Circadian rhythm which affects your hormones, regulates your daytime energy levels and night-time sleep duration.  Daily exposure to bright light helps to keep your Circadian rhythm healthy. In addition, try to schedule physical activity during the day.  If you can’t go to the gym or an exercise class, try to take a daily walk.”

Avoid caffeine from late afternoon onwards – “Enjoy your coffee or tea in the morning when you may get some benefit from the stimulating effects of caffeine on your nervous system.  After 3 to 4pm rather switch to decaffeinated coffee or fruit, herbal and rooibos teas.”

Set your bedtime and wake up time – “Our bodies thrive with a good routine.  Define both your bedtime and your wake up time, and be consistent, even on weekends.  Adults, generally require around 7 to 8 hours of sleep time per night.”

Avoid alcohol before bedtime – 
“Alcohol disrupts your Circadian rhythm which is what triggers the night-time production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.  A couple of drinks at night can result in restless, even interrupted sleep and also cause snoring.  If you enjoy having a warm and soothing bedtime drink, try the naturally relaxing Yogi Tea Bedtime Rooibos Vanilla, an organic blend that includes calming Lemon Balm and fragrant rose petals.”

Make your bedroom a chamber for good sleep
 – “Keep your bedroom free of electronic devices – laptops, phones and TVs, which all emit blue light from their screens and stimulate the mind.  Your bedroom is ideally your quiet, private space for relaxing your mind, resting your body and enjoying a good night’s sleep, while work, entertainment and online socialising happens rather in your living area.  This helps you to avoid mental busy-ness and distractions when you are preparing to sleep.”

Let go strong emotions and worries – “Even when we have slowed down, softened and relaxed our bodies, racing thoughts can plague our minds.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the events of the day, or the anticipation of the next, you need to consciously refocus your thoughts as you prepare for bedtime.  Interrupt stressful thoughts by reminding yourself of your important goal to relax the mind.  Take note of your achievements of the day, rather than focusing on the problems.  Spend a few moments thinking of a few things that you are grateful for.  Use deep breathing techniques or try a calming guided meditation.”

If you need some extra help to soothe your mind and calm emotions but don’t want to go the route of sleeping or anti-anxiety meds, there are effective, non-addictive natural options that you can make part of your bedtime routine.  Feelgood Health’s MindSoothe is a herbal mood tonic formulated by our Clinical Psychologist and featuring St John’s Wart, which is proven effective at treating anxiety.  This can be taken daily in conjunction with PureCalm a tincture of Lemon Balm, Lavender and Passion Flower that helps to combat nervous stress and tension.  Michele concludes, “With your focus on ensuring peaceful sleep you can implement a night-time regime that works optimally for you.  Taking charge of your sleep actually helps you to reduce your stress levels generally.  There’s no doubt that our outlook on life is brighter in the morning after a good night’s sleep.”