Problem sleeping ? How to Sleep like a Baby
Would you like to sleep as soundly, as restful, as snug as a young baby? I’m not sure where the saying “sleep like a baby” originated from. If you are the parent of a new born, you probably would completely disagree with it. However when baby is asleep, there is little that will disturb them. They enjoy deep calm restful sleep.
Do you find it difficult to get to sleep? Do you wake up during the night and cannot get back to sleep? beat yourself up trying? wake in the morning exhausted? Are you tired and sleepy during the day - like in this image published by the BBC ?
In this article I will show you how to improve your sleep life.
This article includes
- A brief comment on my own experience
- The personal cost of poor sleep
- Human history and science of sleep – understanding sleep
- How much sleep do I need
- Great sleep habits
- Seaweed baths as a sleeping aid
How I started to turn things around
About six months ago, a habit of wakening up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep started to bother me. Why was I not getting a standard eight hours of sleep ? How was this affecting my performance, my life ?
I have always been interested in wellness and live a relatively healthy life style. But an injury and poor sleep were bothering me. Determined to enjoy better health, I commenced recording a sleep diary. This was combined with extensive study of research from leading edge organisations around the world. Taking my personal learning experience from the diary and research ideas, I started to understand sleep and myself. There is nothing very difficult or complex about this. All of the learnings and ideas are simple and easy to implement. You will be surprised how a little experimentation and simple changes can improve knowledge, restfulness and sleep.
If I can do it, you can do it.
Personal cost of poor sleep
Poor sleep habits creep up on us – a bit like a parasite. It can affect our health and enjoyment of life. Inadequate sleep or continuous broken sleep impacts to varying degrees on our
- Physical health – headaches, exhaustion, run down immune systems, energy levels
- Mental health – mood, stress levels, motivation
- Safety – alertness for driving, for operating machinery
- Family life – inertia to play with kids, take part in family activities
These early stage impact signals can then turn to illness ( high blood pressure, heart disease, colds / flu, depression, eating dis-orders ), accidents, injuries, absence from work, loss of income and in the most extreme cases to death itself.
There is also a huge over reliance on sleeping pills without trying healthier more natural sleeping aids.
History and science of sleep – understanding your sleep
Over the millenia humans like most animals, went to bed after sunset and got up at sunrise, to hunt, to gather and harvest food. Human bodies and sleep patterns were harmonised with nature, with the seasons and with night and day. Life was tough involving heavy manual tasks. For this reason the main meal was consumed in the middle of the day, to provide energy to keep going for the afternoon and evening.
The industrial revolution of the 1800’s by introducing various developments in artificial lighting extended working day hours and reduced night time hours. This revolution, along with the information age of the 1900-2000’s also accelerated the daily pace of life. These quantum changes in life style, were and are dramatic, compared to natural human evolution to date.
They have introduced major stress points into our natural sleep cycle, our biological circadian rhythm clock.
Some people have this misconception that sleep is wasteful. It’s as if we were throwing away part of our life. On the contrary while we are closed off and unaware of ourselves and the outside world, our bodies and brains are very busy, as we sleep. Sleep is part of the natural world – in plants, animals and humans. Without sleep we would not survive as a living being.
Most of our early night we experience what is called “deep sleep”. This is where our automatic self correcting systems go to work healing and repairing our physical body. The second part of the night features REM ( rapid eye movement ) sleep where our brain collates and stores all the information we have received. This period also sees the repair and renewal of the plasticity of brain cells.
Many people wake up between these two sleep periods. There is a debate as to whether this is completely natural or not. Easing back to sleep is what matters and is discussed below. I like this explanatory 24 hour circadian rhythm clock published by Wikipedia.
How much sleep do I need ?
The following image published by the National Sleep Foundation shows recommendations for the number of hours sleep needed by us throughout our life. Personally I also find it is useful to listen to my body. Our bodies have millennia of DNA knowledge and experience embedded. If we party late or stretch ourselves at work or play, our bodies tell us naturally ….hey hold up there … I need another hour on Sunday morning. Similarly you may find in summer …. getting plenty of energy from the sun, eating healthy foods, maybe having a “cat nap” …. you may find with the bright mornings you wake up earlier and don’t need just as much sleep as usual.
Great sleep habits
- Keep a sleep diary
To overcome sleep difficulties I started to compile a sleep diary at the start of 2017. This records the key facts, including feel of tiredness night / morning, likely causes of poor sleep, observations, lessons learned. It is simple. You will be surprised what you learn about yourself. You will be even more surprised how easy it is to improve your sleep habits.
A couple of minutes at the end of the day and first thing in the morning will do it. My preference is to use an excel sheet. You can see patterns emerging and it gives you pointers on what to change. If anyone would like to receive my excel format, simply key “Sleep diary” and your contact details here, and I will email it to you.
The other key component of great sleep is regular exercise. It is one of the pillars of great physical and mental health. The largest consumer survey carried out by Sleep Score Labs and published at CES in January shows that “Exercise is good for sleep: Any amount is helpful, but the optimal amount is 30 minutes, which correlates to 14 minutes of extra sleep per night.”
- The bedroom checklist
- Mattress - firm well sprung made from natural materials. The same Sleep Score Labs shows that “the type and size of the mattress people sleep on appears to make an average difference of 20 minutes sleep per night (between best and worst).” My family have all got new tall firm handmade mattresses from the Natural Sleep Company and they swear by them.
- Sheets, pillows, pyjamas - soft natural organic materials – cotton or bamboo
- Refresh – change bed clothing each week
- Room – clean and vacuum each week – keeps it dust / mite free
- Fresh air – open the window each day, to allow clean fresh air circulate
- Curtains – as heavy material as possible to screen out external light and sound
- Absolute no no’s ! – no TV, electronic devices, phones in the bedroom
- Temperature – ideal bedroom temperature is between 15-19°c which is cooler than recommended day time temperatures for living rooms. If you waken during the night, become aware – are you too hot, too cold ? – adjust your room temperature accordingly.
It is a well known axiom that the bedroom is only for S & S – sleep and sex. It is also well known that high performance sports people and their managers place huge reliance on sleep and getting the sleep environment and preparation right. This includes fresh sheets and clothing the night before the big game / event. Some top English soccer players take their own pillows and duvets with them for the night before away games, because they know what is familiar and works for them at home.
- Sleep preparation checklist
- Stick to a schedule – your body and mind loves a regular habit. This includes weekends unless you have a special late night party.
- Food – try to have your last meal as early as possible in the evening. This should help avoid indigestion / upset stomachs pre bed and during night. If needed a light snack can be enjoyed an hour before bed.
- Drink – avoid coffee, alcohol, sugar high energy drinks in the evening. Yes enjoy alcohol – but keep it to one or two evenings at the weekend as a treat.
- Exercise – avoid strenuous exercise in the few hours pre-bed. Exercise raises the body temperature and gets the endorphins flowing, the “runners high” which is not conducive to sleep.
- Wind down – gently relax and away from all electronics in the pre-bed hour. Great practices include – write up your diary, write your next day plan, calm relaxing music, meditation, reading, talk time, family time.
- Negative mind set – avoid all contacts, communications, actions which might develop negative thoughts or emotions pre-bed time. These will only set the mind into over drive and you won’t have a chance of getting to sleep.
- Alarm clock –if you really need a wake up call, use an old fashioned alarm clock or old disconnected mobile phone.
- Mobile phone – turn off and leave on dressing table away from bed. I like to keep it in the bedroom in case of an emergency, but out of reach ( of temptation ) should I wake up during the night.
- Mind – to help you drift off to sleep – say a short simple silent “Thank You” to God, to yourself, to your family – for the wonderful day, your wonderful life, the wonderful Universe – any or all of these.
- Visualisation – imagine yourself relaxing on a warm sunny beach, or floating on your back at water’s edge. Feel yourself gently drift off to sleep.
When you develop good sleeping habits, I guarantee, you will always wake up naturally rested and without the need for an alarm.
- What to do if you cannot sleep
- Pen & paper – beside bed to record any brief ideas / thoughts that might have woken you. This clears the mind and passes them to the next day.
- Restart – get up for a few minutes, visit the bathroom, get a drink of water – start your going to bed routine again – don’t force it – visualise a relaxing scene
- Read – it’s amazing how a short read – will tire your eyes, your mind, your body
- Toilet visits ? – these can be eliminated by cutting out beverages in the two hours pre sleep.
- Dehydrated ? – check and if necessary turn down room temperature. If this does not work, then place a glass of water on your bedside table. Try to wean yourself off.
- Snoring partner – either move to a separate bedroom or get a Nasal Medical snoring aid for your partner.
- Lavendar oil - a few drops on a tissue placed inside your pillow cover will bring calm, relaxation and then gentle sleep.
Benefits of good sleep for you
By the way in terms of food, drink, party and late night, I am not trying to be a spoil sport. Yes spoil yourself once a week / month and then get back to good habits.
Quality rest and sleep is one of the pillars of good health. It repairs and renews both the body and mind. It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing. Good sleep helps maintain a clear skin and slows the ageing process. This of course assumes the rest of your life style is also synchronised with good eating, drinking, breathing and exercise practices.
Think of it – you, through your actions, determine your health and how long you will live.
How seaweed baths can help you sleep
As you probably gather by now, I am passionate about health and even more so about the health benefits of seaweed baths – especially my own Cara Mara luxury seaweed baths which I believe are the best in the world. However I prefer you to be the judge.
Seaweed baths have a holistic way in helping you to sleep
- The warm water of the seaweed bath heats our body. This triggers our heart to beat faster to maintain a stable core body temperature. The faster heart beat pushes oxygen and minerals through the blood system helping to heal aches, pains, injuries in muscles and bones. If you are a reasonably healthy person, in the calm of the bath, you should be able to feel / listen to your heart beat. As the bath water gets cooler, your heart slows back to a relaxed normal heart beat.
- Secondly raising the body temperature, and subsequently gently cooling it, mimics the normal lowering of body temperature shown in the circadian rhythm The body starts to think, yes it is getting ready for sleep time.
- Small amounts of magnesium from the seaweed are absorbed through the skin to the blood stream. Magnesium commonly used in hospital medical drips for a variety of purposes, has a history of relaxing muscles and reducing cramp, tightness, anxiety and stress.
- The alginates ( gels ) secreted from the seaweed in the warm water of the bath, are also absorbed into the skin, conditioning and soothing it. This calm relaxing effect permeates body, mind and spirit.
After your seaweed bath, have a cool shower if you can handle it. Besides locking in all the goodness from the seaweed, it helps the body continue to cool in preparation for sleep. Delay going to bed for half an hour and rehydrate with a fruit drink or water. You will so enjoy your sleep and awake in the morning, feeling energised and full of life.
Discover New Life Better Health
You spend a full third of your life in bed. You deserve to sleep well.
Cara Mara luxury seaweed baths
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