Sleep. Catching some z's. Forty winks.
For me, sleep is crucial. If I'm lacking sleep and I can almost guarantee to get ill, see my stress levels rocket and generally turn into a bit of a monster. Since I was little I've relied on getting a good eight hours - I was always the kid who was in bed by seven o'clock whilst everyone else was out playing... thanks Mum! Whilst I hated that growing up, today know that it's key to my overall health and wellbeing.
The science bit: why a lack of sleep really is detrimental to your health.
According to the NHS, one in three British adults suffer from a lack of sleep. It can heave serious effects on your health and make you more susceptible to conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It can also have perhaps a more obvious and immediate impact on things like focus and temper. An early night seems a little bit more appealing now, hey?!
I don't know about you but one of the biggest problems for me is switching off. If I've worked late, exercised, had a coffee or two too many in the day or am worried about something, the chances of me drifting off peacefully are pretty low. Throw the constant distraction of an iPhone into the mix and it's a recipe for disaster! I'll say the obvious - put the phone down. Read a book. Do some meditation. Have a relaxing bath. Get into a routine. The lovely folks at Hilary's have put together a whole load of sleep tips to help you drift into the land of nod swiftly, and hopefully get better quality sleep whilst you're at it.
One thing I read time and time again is the importance of getting morning daylight to help waking up naturally. Serotonin boosting goodness. In recent weeks I've been waking up feeling more refreshed - possibly due to a more relaxing period at work, but most definitely helped by the early sunrise. To me there is nothing more depressing and difficult than waking up in the dark.
When struggling with my sleeping patterns a year or so ago, a friend recommended I try a Lumie BodyClock* - they replicate sunrise and sunset and help waking during those oh-so-difficult dark mornings. Of course, at this time of year the majority of us don't need to replicate sunrise - at the moment sunrise starts before 5am, when I am more than happy to be asleep still! I'm so looking forward to testing the sunrise setting out in the darker months and seeing if it improves that 'morning, already?!' feeling. But for now I've been enjoying the sunset setting - shutting my curtains and popping on a slow sunset sequence. I can read a few chapters of my book with the light slowly dimming, naturally tuning my brain into sleep mode and helping me switch off.
So what can you expect to notice when your sleep improves? Good news - the list is pretty extensive! Improved immune system, mood, focus, sex-drive, mental wellbeing, memory, creativity, ability to deal with stress ...even an increased life expectancy. And for those of you who are, like me, trying to shed some pounds there is lots of evidence suggesting sleep makes weight-loss easier and more effective. Sleep to help weight loss? I'll take that!
What are your top sleep tips?
This post contains a sponsored link which I was reimbursed for. All thoughts my own!