Getting a good night's banana cinnamon tea recipe
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Enough sleep is vital for good health

The Mystery of Sleep


 Dear <<First Name>>

I recently gave talk on tips for relaxing sleep to a group of women and I was asked at the end of the talk to put my content into my next newsletter so here it is! I hope you find it useful.

Sleep is a huge topic and one of the main reasons people come and see me.

 I am going to look at what biologically sleep is, why we sleep, and then the main categories of reasons why people don't sleep. Finally I am going to look at one of the main reasons for insomnia and give you some ways to improve your sleep if you fall into that category ( which most of us do!). 

Wishing you a restful nights sleep and sweet dreams...

What is Sleep?

There are two main types of sleep:    
Non REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and;
REM (or dream state) sleep.

When you fall asleep you are in non REM sleep and your brain waves get slower and slower ( average cycle is 90 minutes) and then they speed up hugely as you go into a very short REM sleep state. Dreams may feel like a very long time but REM sleep is only a few seconds . You then go into non REM sleep again and so on (see the chart above) with the REM content increasing through the night to around 20-25%.
Babies can be in REM sleep for 9 hours solid and children and teens have different patterns so I am going to focus mainly on adults.


Why do we Sleep?

You are probably thinking that's obvious. We need to repair and regenerate our bodies and rest.

Yes we need to repair but interestingly the repair stage only takes 40-60 minutes so why do sleep studies  show that 6-8 hours is the optimum time for adults? In addition in some stages of sleep we are more active than during the day so whats going on?

Adults that sleep less or more than 6-8 hours are on average 5 kg heavier than those that sleep in this range. They also have poorer immunity and a higher risk of serious disease. And if you don't dream your productivity and creativity is significantly reduced.

In the 1950's Stanford University set up a Sleep Center and the head of that department, a leading authority on sleep and many books and now aged 87 was asked after 50 years of research why do we sleep?
Dr William Dement said that the only solid reason he could come up with was that people get sleepy!!

Many consider sleep to be a spiritual declutter and that makes perfect sense to me and fits in with all the scientific studies.



Main reasons for insomnia

  • Psychological issues such as anxiety,depression,stress,worry,grief or a busy mind. This accounts for over 50% and is why I have focused on this category with my comments below,

  • Pain is another big category,
  • Hormonal reasons such as thyroid disorders, menopause, pregnancy, jet lag and shift work,
  • Nutritional deficiencies in particular calcium and magnesium but there others,
  • Chronic disease especially heart and kidney diseases,
  • Pharmaceutical medications often interfere with sleep. You may be surprised to learn that as a general rule sleeping pills should not be used regularly as they rob the body of REM sleep and actually make sleep worse over time.
Lavender essential oil promotes restful sleep

Tips for Relaxing Sleep

  • Firstly clear your bedroom of electromagnetic smog, so no mobile phones, no laptops no iPads etc. TV's are not good either and if you can't remove them switch them off at the mains.
  • Wind down before bed; ideally don't work, send emails, make school lunches or watch TV immediately before bed. Spend half an hour or more relaxing i.e. meditating, reading something calming (not Stephen King!!) or have a warm bath.
  • That brings us to the next recommendation; have a warm epsom salts bath ( 3 cups for a minimum 20 minutes). Epsom salts are rich in magnesium which calms and nourishes your nervous system and the best way to absorb it is through your skin. (Great for kids too!).If you can't manage a full bath have a footbath with 1 cup instead. 
  • Lavender essential oil is a great way calm yourself. Drop a couple of drops on your pillow or under your nose (also good for the kids!).
  • If your are woken by snoring or other noises try ear plugs.....
  • Chamomile tea is great for relaxing before bed. Use a good quality chamomile and steep the bag or flowers for a minimum of 20 minutes. Only have a small cup otherwise your bladder will wake you up......
  • So don't drink too much in the afternoon and evening......
  • Certain foods are rich in the amino acid tryophan which converts to the neurotransmitter serotonin and are therefore helpful before bed. Banana and cinnamon tea is excellent for recipe click here. I also find a handful of pumpkin seeds or nut butter great and no liquid content!
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