In a world where we have split the atom and sent people to space, its amazing to think that we don’t actually fully understand sleep or know WHY we sleep. There are a few theories out there, but we don’t know for sure.
Before the industrial revolution we depended on the sun to dictate our sleep/wake cycle. We would go to bed when the sun went down, sleep until about midnight, then wake up around midnight to think (or commit petty crime) then fall back asleep at about 2am and sleep until the sun rose. There are historical references to “first and second sleeps”. Sleeping uninterrupted for 8 hours is actually a relatively new behaviour.
It would appear that sleep is a time where the brain consolidates memories, flushes out metabolic waste products and regenerates. But to quote “The Father of Sleep” Dr William C. Dement ,“We sleep in order not to be sleepy”.
What we do know for sure is that sleep is hugely important and not getting enough sleep can be really bad for both our mental and physical health.
Here are some scary facts about sleep:
- If you don’t get enough sleep you are more likely to be overweight. Levels of Leptin (which is a hormone that regulates appetite) fall when you don’t get enough sleep, so appetite is increased (the paradox being the more you eat the more sleepy you feel as your body has to work harder and devote more energy to digesting the food).
- Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause mental and physical impairments comparable to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 (which is the legal driving limit in Australia).
- Turns out, being someone who falls asleep in 5 minutes or less is not a sign of being an amazing sleeper, it’s an alarming sign of being sleep deprived. It should take more like 10 to 15 minutes to fall asleep.
But friends, we're looking out for you. If you're struggling to get quality sleep and counting sheep isn't quite cutting it, here's a few tips to get a better night sleep.
- Avoiding bright lights (or blue light) for a couple of hours before bed (yes, this includes your phone, TV and computer). Try reading instead!
- Keep a consistent sleep pattern (so try to avoid crazy late nights and sleep-ins on the weekend).
- Try a wind down routine - this is something you can add on to your consistent sleep pattern so mentally you are preparing for sleep. This might be 10 minutes of yoga, then a shower, reading a book then finally, sleeping.
- Don't eat for at least an hour before going to bed. And keep the bed a “sleep only” space, no social media or Netflix in bed!
- Help your body relax with a herbal tea. Teas such as our Chamomile Mellow and Hops Slumber are both naturopathically designed with selected ingredients to help calm and relax you.
Need more sleepy time tips? Check some out here.
Sleep well everyone!