Why sleep is good for your health
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything”Irish Proverb
Sleep is a naturally occurring state of mind and body, displayed by an altered state of consciousness and reduced muscle activity, catching the right amount of ZZZ’s each night is important at any age. With our bodies doing the most amount of growing and healing when we are in the land of nod, sleep allows our bodies to rest, recover and restore. In fact, research has revealed that insufficient or poor quality sleep can lead to a host of health troubles including obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health illness.
Most of us will enjoy climbing in to a comfortable bed (after a long day) for a good night’s sleep, but not all of us are blessed with restful nights and as we age, we often experience altered sleep patterns. Difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night or wakening early may be the change in sleep our older loved ones experience.
This week we explore sleep habits to help you get the most out of your slumber and improve your sleep health.
Amongst other countless benefits exercise has on our bodies, physical activity can also promote restful sleep. Aerobic activity increases the core body temperature and metabolic rate, uses our glycogen stores and builds muscle. After exercise, when the body cools down and the metabolic rate slows, these can illicit symptoms of tiredness, allowing an easier transition in to deep sleep.
Residents at The Richardson partake in regular fitness classes with our on-site physio’s in the well-equipped gym and in the heated pool. Our lifestyle team take small groups of residents on walks in our leafy neighbourhood of West Perth. Exposure to sunlight can also assist in establishing good sleep cycles. Click this link to find a great walking trail to get your steps in this weekend.
This is not to say one should exercise straight before bedtime… Aerobic activity promotes the release of endorphins, which help to boost our mood and energy, essentially, waking us up. The best time to exercise to assure a good night’s sleep is mid-morning or early afternoon.
A dark, cool and quiet environment will make for optimum surrounds for sound slumber. A well-ventilated room with a temperature set between 15-19 degrees Celsius is best for a comfortable nights sleep. Light signals the brain to wake up, whilst darkness sends a signal to the brain to secrete melatonin, the sleep hormone that makes us feel sleepy and eventually sends us to dreamland. Block-out blinds or curtains will help keep the room dark and allow the brain to function in “night mode”.
All accommodation at The Richardson are fitted with block-out curtains for effective darkness and privacy, and each room is equipped with individual temperature controlled air-conditioning for residents to tailor their room temperature to suit their preference.
Ensure your bed is comfortable and complete with a suitably fitted pillow. Residents at The Richardson are spoilt with extra-large, fully adjustable electric beds and top quality bedding to guarantee a solid forty winks. To get fitted for the right pillow for you, we suggest going to see your local Chiropractor.
In the technological world we live in, we are constantly surrounded by sensory stimuli. Whether it’s a smart phone, laptop, tablet or TV, the light emitted from these electronic devices is a form of ‘non-natural light’ which is made up of a higher concentration of blue light. Artificial blue light in high exposure can cause a new world phenomenon known as digital eye strain.
Focusing on this artificial light before bed can inhibit the production of melatonin and can impact one’s ability to fall asleep easily. Blublox is a Perth-based company who locally design glasses to block out harmful blue light. Software like f.lux can be downloaded onto your laptop or computer to help block blue light.
To combat the impact of your electronic devices on your sleep health, make sure you disconnect from technology at least 1 hr before bedtime. Instead try taking a warm relaxing bath, read a book or practice a gentle relaxation meditation. Sleep Apps like Calm, Breethe and Headspace have fabulous guided relaxation and breathing sessions.
Whether you are a hard-core coffee or tea drinker, both of these drinks contain high caffeine content which are well known stimulants and likely to keep you awake at night. It is recommended that caffeine be avoided for at least 5 – 6hrs before bedtime to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Try switching your evening cuppa for a relaxing herbal tea alternative that is caffeine-free. The Richardson’s local café Rawr in West Perth have many beautiful teas to choose from.
It can be harder to fall asleep if your body is still digesting a big meal. To decrease sleep disruptions, try to avoid large or late dinners and minimise fatty and spicy foods. If you need an evening snack, opt for something light and nutritious check this list of healthy late-night snack options.
Making a few small changes can go a long way to improving sleep health and consequently your overall physical and mental well-being.
If you wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, or would like to book a tour through The Richardson, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800 or book a tour online.