How much good quality sleep do you get? Good sleep can go a long way to feeling well in our day to day lives. Good sleep is where we rejuvenate, recharge our batteries, repair our cells and detoxify our bodies and brains. We all can have nights we don’t sleep well but if we have longer term sleep issues this can negatively affect our mental and physical health. Today too many people are having too little sleep with busy jobs, family life, 24 hour internet and stress.

So what can longer term sleep deprivation contribute to? First of all poor sleep can affect our mood, concentration, energy levels, make us more groggy or irritable, increase stress levels and thus our ability to cope with daily challenges and can also increase anxiety. It can lower our immunity, age us and is linked to more serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure

Overtime poor sleep can make it difficult for us to lose weight and we can gain weight more easily. This is due to several factors such as the resulting insulin resistance and less ability to burn fat and cravings for junk foods. I know when Sophia didn’t sleep well for 2 years I developed Insulin Resistance and poor blood sugar control. In addition, Leptin is a hormone that helps control feelings of fullness and curbs appetite and falls when we are sleep deprived. Conversely ghrenlin is increased with poor sleep and this hormone triggers hunger, food intake and promotes the retention of fat.

We know that stress, worry and sleep are inter-related and feed off each other in a vicious cycle. Here are some simple tips to help with better sleep and stress reduction:
• Balance blood sugar throughout the day, a little protein at each meal, plenty veg and less sugary foods and caffeinated and energy drinks, alcohol, excess chocolate and junk foods (which are sleep stealers)
• Avoid heavy greasy meals before bedtime, try to get some fresh air during the day
• Calming foods include green leafy veg, garlic, avocados, mushrooms, bananas, oats, lettuce and turkey for example – try to include some for your dinner
• Warm baths with lavender or Epsom salt baths
• Write down any worries in a journal or things to do the next day to get out of your head
• Good sleep routine eg turning off tv, mobiles, computers 1 hour before sleep as the stimulation and blue light is very detrimental to sleep, eye masks, dark room
• Do some calming and relaxing techniques whether a few yoga poses, guided visualisations, meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness practices – anything that takes away your fear, worry or overactive mind
• Supplements can help such as magnesium, calming herbal teas (see Tea blog), 5HTP, valerian and cherry juice (always check with GP if on any medication)

It can be hard to re-establish good nourishing sleep patterns but with a little effort, practice and time you can reap the benefits that good sleep can give you. And I do think individually we all have to look at what we can do in our lives, take some pressures off, step back a little, stop living 24/7 and value the simple things in life. Anne xx