I often find my client’s that are experiencing the most discomfort both physically and mentally/emotionally, are more than likely experiencing sleep problems and poor habits related to relaxation. Being tired will often emphasise the symptoms that are present purely because the body is working overtime just to have the energy to get through the next task… hello coffee at 3pm!
Sleep can tell me a lot about what is going on with my clients. Here are a few questions to answer about your sleep:
- Is it hard to get to sleep?
- Do you wake during the night? If so, around what time?
- Do you wake to urinate during the night?
- Is it easy to get back to sleep?
- Do you get night sweats?
- Do you have vivid dreams, or nightmares?
So, why is sleep important?
Sleep is a fundamental part of our overall health – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It affects how we feel, how we look and how we perform, on a daily basis.
From a physical perspective, sleep:
- Boosts the immune system
- Aids muscle repair
- Keeps weight in check – by regulating the hormones leptin and ghrelin, responsible for satiety and hunger.
- Regulates hormones
- Aids memory consolidation
Even more interesting to me is the Traditional Chinese Medicine concept that looks at what happens on the whole when we sleep. Strong emotions and mental pressures like stress and worry are commonly associated with disturbance of Shen, and therefore sleep and overall health. From a TCM perspective, it is believed that throughout the day the Shen (spirit/mind) moves up from the heart organ meridian and resides in the head. And at night, the Shen will gravitate back to the heart for rest throughout the night. Shen regulates conscious awareness, and it’s movement is part of the body's circadian rhythm.
So what is ‘good’ sleep?
Quality AND quantity are important when it comes to getting a truly restorative night’s sleep. Ultimately we want to be getting around 8hours sleep, no less than 7hours (and up to 9hours for children and adolescence).
Numerous studies that look at the correlation between sleep and health show that there is an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity when sleeping less than 6 hours a night.
There are different stages of sleep that make up a full ‘cycle’. It takes 90minutes for one cycle of sleep through REM (random eye movement) to NREM (non-random eye movement).
What can we do to get better sleep?
There are a number of things you can do to improve your sleep. By creating and maintaining good sleep habits, aka sleep hygiene, you are setting your body up for good restful sleep. Sleep hygiene is an important aspect of letting your body know that it is time to begin the relaxation and calming process of getting ready for a restful restorative sleep. For my more information, check out my article on 6 Tips for Better Sleep.
Available for consults at Health Space Potts Point Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
Call: 02 8354 1534
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