The Importance of Sleep – And how to get more of it!
Sleep is wonderful!
Do you know that as human beings, we spend about a third of our lives asleep? Sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing. It’s benefits to our physical and mental health are as important as eating, drinking and breathing! Sleeping helps us to repair, re-energise and recover from both mental and physical exertion.
The correlation between sufficient periods of good quality sleep and our physical and mental health is undeniable. Broken and insufficient sleep has a clear correlation with poor health and poor health can make it harder to sleep and so the downward spiral begins.
Common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression can often underpin sleep problems. Lethargy, tiredness and disturbed sleep can be a major part of creating a mental health problem. Addressing sleep and sleep problems as part of good mental health is very important and is often overlooked.
We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep.
Often, basic techniques can improve your sleep and I’ve shared one of my favourites with you below. Just before we get there, I’d like you to think about your sleeping environment. Where you sleep is important and the bedroom and bed should be places that you associate with sleep.
Please be mindful of your technology. Watching TV, playing with your ‘phone or iPad and eating in bed can all affect the quality of our sleep. The signal and light frequencies of such devices have a changing effect on our brain wave patterns and take us further away from the delta patterns that indicate we are ready for sleep. Switching off your wi-fi router overnight can also help.
The temperature of the room, noise levels and light all play a part in determining our sleep. If you can bring yourself to leave your mobile ‘phone outside of your sleeping space, even better!
Here’s an easy to follow process which will assist you to slip easily into a refreshing and uninterrupted sleep. This pattern firstly establishes physical relaxation and then moves on to addressing mental relaxation and the removal of all that self-dialogue that usually keeps you awake. Blocking your conscious thought from all of those things that you go over and over in your mind as you lie down to sleep encourages the conscious mind to rest whilst your unconscious mind runs your body during sleep:
Ø Make sureyour sleeping environment is conducive to good sleep.
Ø Lie comfortably.
Ø Starting at the very top of your head, relax every muscle all the way down your body to the tips of your toes. If you are unsure if a muscle is relaxed properly, tense it and then let it go, that’s relaxation.
Ø Now focus on your breathing. Slow your breathing and become aware of every breath in and every breath out. Notice how cooling and relaxing each breath feels as you feel the soft air flowing into and then out of your lungs.
Ø That’s complete physical relaxation.
Ø Now to relax your mind.
Ø Starting at 100, slowly count backwards and focus on your numbers disappearing. By the time you get to 95, all of your numbers will be gone and your mind will be quiet.
Ø That’s complete mental relaxation.
Ø You will then sink into a restful and rejuvenating sleep.