Sleep – creating balance in your life
Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It’s not just ‘time out’ from our busy routine. Restorative sleep is vital in allowing our brains to consolidate our memories and process information. A sleepless night can make you feel sluggish throughout the next day. According to new research ¹, this is due to your brain cells being tired, too – making you more likely to be forgetful and distracted.
What is the importance of sleep?
Lack of sleep can make us feel stressed, anxious, unfocused and tired. Many people talk about the recommended amount of hours of sleep we need per night, but the quality of sleep you get also matters. Scientists believe that poor quality sleep can contribute to heart disease and premature ageing.²
While you rest, your body goes through different stages of the sleep cycle which are divided into two categories: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. Your night begins with non-REM sleep followed by a short period of REM sleep. This cycle consists of five stages and continues through the night approximately every 90 minutes.
How can you improve your sleeping habits?
Focus on your lifestyle…
- Maintain a regular bedtime routine to help you wind down. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night.
- Exercise – as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise (such as walking or cycling) can dramatically improve the quality (and quantity) of your sleep.³
- Eat the right foods – certain foods and drinks contain compounds that help control parts of the sleep cycle such as warm milk, almonds, lettuce and cherries.⁴
- Take a warm bath to help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest.
- Listen to music or read a book.
- Take part in ecotherapy – connect with nature to help improve your mood and increase your emotional resilience.⁵
- Practise sophrology breathing to help promote sleep.
- Do yoga to help relieve stress and calm and centre your nervous system.
- Meditate to achieve mindfulness before you sleep.
- Have a digital detox – limit screen time.
Sophrology is used to mentally prepare individuals ahead of stressful activities – for example, as a birthing preparation in hospitals in Switzerland, France and Spain. In addition, the French rugby team reportedly used sophrology while training for the last World Cup.