Sleep Easy on World Sleep Day with This Sleep Audit

woman sleeping

World Sleep Day is an annual, global call to action on the importance of healthy sleep. The focus of WSD is to raise awareness of the many burdens of sleep problems, as well as the importance of healthy sleep.

World Sleep Day 2019 will incorporate the slogan 'Healthy Sleep, Healthy Ageing' which is intended to emphasise the importance of sleep in overall health at any age. This focus is deliberately broad, promoting the message that quality of life can be improved with healthy sleep.

Conversely, when sleep fails, health declines, which results in a much decreased quality of life.

A vicious cycle

In a nutshell, without sufficient quality sleep our body can’t repair from the daily toils of living, nor can it heal from disorder and disease. Chronic stress disrupts our hormone production and our sleep physiology, making restful, restorative sleep impossible. Surprisingly, we need sufficient energy for quality sleep.

That means eating enough energy-rich foods during the day so that our body gets messages of ‘safety’ and doesn’t run out of energy during the night to enter ‘stress mode’ - which makes us restless and wake up. And because our hormones are disrupted, we can’t get back to sleep. And so it goes on.


“Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast.”

Macbeth, William Shakespeare


But that’s just the very tip of the sleeping iceberg. As Professor Matthew Walker in his bestseller Why We Sleep puts it:

“It is time for us to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep. In doing so, we can be reunited with that most powerful elixir of wellness and vitality. Then we may remember what it feels like to be truly awake during the day.

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.”

So, on World Sleep Day, take a moment to audit your sleep habits: it could absolutely change your life.

 

World Sleep Day Audit

  1. sleep

    How much sleep?

    Firstly, what does good sleep look like? Optimally, it needs to look something like this:

  • You sleep for 7-10 hours (depending on your age and other factors)
  • You do not wake in the night or if you do, you don’t remember and go straight back to sleep
  • You do not need the loo in the night (usually!)
  • You sleep peacefully and don’t thrash around
  • You wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day
  1. Now check off the sleep ‘hygiene’ habits below:
  • In bed by 10.00pm and asleep by 11.00pm. No, there are no such things as human ‘night-owls’!
  • The bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. (Think cave)
  • A bedtime ‘wind-down’ routine:
    • Switching off the TV, devices, bright/blue lighting 2 hours before retiring
    • Reading (by red lighting or with blue-blocking glasses) or listening to relaxing music
    • Taking time for relaxation, mindfulness or for journaling for 30 minutes or so before bed (Consider this is a major one!)
    • Banning ALL devices from the bedroom
    • If you can’t bear to leave the mobile on the landing, making SURE it’s more than 3-feet from your head
  • Not waking to the buzzing of your alarm - it puts your body straight into stress mode! Go for the gentler option of using a dawn simulator alarm clock which wakes you up very gradually with light (before the loud buzzing noise tells you to move your butt into the shower!).
  • Step outside every morning for 10-15 mins to reset circadian rhythms (internal light/dark body clock) for the day
  • Moderate exercise, like walking in nature during the day - especially at lunchtime
  • Eating energy foods - carbohydrates like fruits and root vegetables - throughout the day
  • Eating your biggest meals and most of your protein by lunchtime and carb-loading with smaller helpings at dinner
  • NOT eating the 'wrong' things too close to bedtime (crisps, chocolate, heavy meals)
  • Saying ‘No!’ to caffeine after lunch and limiting alcohol and nicotine after early evening
  1. Now listen to your body
  • How many checks did you make? Not too many? Get really quiet, close your eyes, breathe slowly and put your attention on your midsection
  • Now slowly read the sleep hygiene habits through again, listening carefully to how your body responds. Prioritise one element from each of the following and put it into practise immediately and consistently:
    • Eating
    • Getting outside
    • Devices and lighting

 

Finally, I highly recommend reading Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker… or listening to an excellent 2-part podcast in which Dr Rangan Chatterjee interviews Matthew.

“Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.”


“Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast.”

Macbeth, William Shakespeare

 


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Izabella Natrins

After 30 years in the health space, as qualified holistic nutrition and lifestyle health coach, digestive health practitioner & nutritional chef and a writer, a speaker, partner, a mum & grand-mum, I'm here to use my expertise and experience to help women shine at midlife and live the rest of their lives, the BEST of their lives in much better health. My Femergy@40 Nutrition and Lifestyle Health Coaching programmes empower, support and inspire busy, midlife women who are fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight, sleep, energy and with niggling or with multiple diagnosed health issues. My book Once Upon a Cook - Food Wisdom, Better Living will make you want to change the way you eat, reclaim your kitchen and take back your health.

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