Health and Well Being

Hello? Sleep? I miss you!

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Healthy living for many of us, probably consists of exercise, diet and even the occasional supplement. One of the most important aspects often forgotten is sleep and sleep quality.

You may be one of those who sleep as soon as you turn out the light. However, more than likely, your good night’s sleep is a rare occurrence or hard to come by. You may spend your nights tossing and turning and left pinning your hopes for getting through the next day on a cup of coffee, or worse a can of Red Bull, amidst bleary eyes and gaping yawns.

Sleep deprivation can affect mental performance, safety and health. You can become emotional, confused and forgetful. Productivity and performance can slip, and immunity drops since sleep combats free radicals in the brain.

In more extreme cases, some of you have been known to fall asleep standing up, or experience hallucinations, delirium, weight gain or poor judgement. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation becomes the norm for those who tolerate it.

Quantity of sleep

How much sleep you need depends on your age and lifestyle. It’s recommended that most adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Nevertheless, if you wake refreshed and can get through the day feeling fantastic, you have enough energy and are rarely sick, you are probably getting the sleep that you need.

Why do we lose sleep?

Sleep is affected by social, technological and lifestyle trends. Factors like a modern lifestyle, nutritional deficiencies, and allergies can all contribute to difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. Stress is also a contributor to sleep loss, as it creates a vicious cycle when increased daytime stress makes sleep elusive at night, while lack of quality sleep contributes to stress.

Our body and behaviour are known to move in circadian rhythms, which equals a 24 hour period. These cycles are controlled by our biological clocks, as well as daytime and night-time light. When you experience changes in our sleep and wake patterns, our circadian rhythms are disrupted. This, in turn, causes sleep loss and sleepiness.

A technology driven lifestyle

Technological advancements mean that today’s society has 24 hour operations, more travel for business and leisure, and increased use of electronic devices like TVs, computers and mobile phones. Mounting evidence suggests that these modern advancements damage sleep quality, quantity and timing.

Aging

Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As we age, we tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when we were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.

Shift work

The 24-7 drive of modern society means that today, about one fifth of the population works beyond what was once a regular daytime shift – 9am until 5pm, five days a week. Sleep quality is found to be significantly lower in those working irregular shifts and compressed work weeks (10 to 12 hour days).

Studies show that following a night shift, workers can undergo shorter daytime sleep, resulting in sleepiness lasting for several days following the night shift. Workers are also prone to falling asleep during their shift, particularly towards the early morning hours.

Technology

Before heading to bed, do you find yourself scrolling through the internet or catching up on your favourite TV show? Technology enables and encourages later bedtimes and longer hours of mental stimulation.

Electronic media exposure has been shown to affect the sleep patterns of adults, adolescents and children. Unlike other hobbies or sports, using electronic devices has no clear endpoint when it comes to bedtime.

For children, using a screen-device in the bedroom can lead to high availability, and low parental control. Devices may also have alerting effects and bright lights coming from their screens, as well as engaging and exciting content. All of this leads to increased exposure to the device, and in some cases addiction, as well as later bedtimes.

Substances

Many people drink coffee to fight daytime sleepiness and impaired daytime functioning. Caffeine-infused energy drinks are also a fast-growing means for alertness.

Habitual caffeine intake is found to be related to sleep disruption, sleepiness and a poor sleep cycle, especially when consumed in the evening Regular consumption of caffeine may also lead to caffeine dependence and withdrawal.

It’s also shown that adult smokers find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep than non-smokers, due to the stimulant effects of nicotine.

Getting a good night’s sleep

Sleep debt is cumulative, which means that the more nights with less sleep, the greater the likelihood of negative effects taking place. The good news, though, is that sleep debt is not like financial debt. Instead of a built-up debt needing to be repaid in an exact amount, you can usually catch up on lost sleep with just two or three nights of adequate sleep in a row.

Establishing good sleep routines

When establishing your good sleep patterns, consider:

Consistency: Develop consistent sleep and wake times, even on days off.

Environment: Make your room your sanctuary – a place of rest, rejuvenation and comfort. Keep the room cool and dark to tell your body that it’s time to sleep.

Routine: Develop a night routine that is relaxing and familiar. Consider drinking chamomile tea, taking a warm bath, reading or stretching. Eliminate things that will wake you up or make it difficult to relax – emotionally-charged discussions, caffeine (have no caffeinated drinks after 3pm), exercise (exercise during the day, not right before bed), and electronic devices.

When you want a bit of extra help

Magnesium has been shown to help relax muscles and the mind when extra help is needed. Element 12 is specifically formulated to help the body get into a relaxed space, giving you the best chance of getting off to sleep and having a quality night of rest.  Created with co-factors to aid absorption, Element 12 is made with 3 different types of magnesium to it more bio-available as well as increase the efficacy.

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