Wellness Wednesday by Nurse Fiona- The importance of sleep
Sleep deprivation by Nurse Fiona
Sleep science pioneer Dr Allan Rechtschaffen once wrote ‘If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made’
Sleep is a natural and critical bodily function that we must prioritize to optimize your health and well being. During sleep the body is healing- regenerating tissue, building bone and muscle and strengthening the immune system. It is thought that during sleep our brain cells shrink in size to allow the removal of damaging toxins linked to nerve cell damage. This is backed up by a recent study conducted by the National Health Institute where Dr Neddergard states ‘We need sleep, it clears up the brain’ (1). Sleep also serves a vital function in skin renewal. While you sleep the metabolic rate of your skin speeds up and new skin cells replace old skin cells.
We are a sleep-deprived culture where we feel we can get on perfectly well on insufficient sleep. The consequences of not sleeping can be widespread and serious. Sleep deprivation can suppress melatonin levels, increase cortisol levels, raise blood pressure, increase inflammation and impairs our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
One of the worst things you can do before bedtime is look at your phone, i-pad or laptop. These devices emit the same wavelength of light as the morning sun, known as blue light. By looking at our screens, we are sending signals to our brain to stop the production of our sleep hormone known as melatonin. There are studies that show that even a glance at your smartphone 60 minutes before bed can impact melatonin secretion.
Nurse Fiona’s tips for good quality sleep
- Remove light exposure 90 minutes before bedtime. If you must have exposure to your phone or screen, use Amber glasses to filter the blue light from your screen. You can purchase these on @amazon for £10
- Manage your sleep environment. Your bedroom should only be for sleep and ‘fun’. It should be a tranquil place to retreat and restore. Phones, lap -tops and TV’s have no place in a bedroom. These devices should be left out of your bedroom and put on silent overnight
- Avoid big meals close to bedtime to give your digestive system a chance to rest and repair
- Buy an old fashioned alarm clock. Your phone should not be used as morning alarm
- Invest in blackout blinds or curtains. Darkness is a signal to our bodies that it is time to rest and repair