It's been really, really hot here in Berlin lately. So hot that my sleep has been jeopardised for a few nights in a row. Big deal! I will survive, you might say. Indeed, I am surviving, but I felt the effects of a bad night's sleep from the very first day. Headache, itchy eyes, difficulty concentrating, intense cravings and the list goes on.
This isn't just in my head; a 2010 study already attested to the effects of a single night of partial sleep deprivation. Many studies have demonstrated the detrimental effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. It can impair your hormonal, metabolic, and immune function and lead to negative health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Sleep disturbances are extremely common. Perhaps you suffer from this too. If you are, you are not alone: according to this study a whooping 31% of Western Europeans are affected by it.
Unfortunately, modern life itself seems to conspire against us getting the restorative sleep we need. Here are a few tips that might help. They are based on science, my coaching as well as my personal (I told you that everybody needs health coaching, including myself!) experience:
- Go to bed when you start feeling tired. How often do you find yourself watching one more episode on TV, absentmindedly scrolling through your instagram or facebook feed or chatting on whatsapp while your body is clearly giving you signs that it's time to go to bed? Think of a toddler throwing a tantrum because they want to sleep. Your adult body is giving you signs too, but you are choosing to ignore them. If you fight the urge to sleep, you might lose that sleep train, and the next one might not come back until way later.
- Don't eat a heavy meal late at night. Personally, I try to have my last meal 2.5hours before sleeping time. Lying in bed trying to fall asleep while digesting a steak is not only uncomfortable, but it can really get in the way of you falling asleep.
- Stop looking at screens at least an hour and a half before bedtime. The artificial light coming out of your smartphone, your laptop, and your TV might be making it harder for you to fall asleep. If you like to read before going to bed, use a book-not an ebook. They still exist!
- Create the right environment for sleep. Fresh air in a cool and silent room, with no distractions. I have already shared my love of earplugs in a previous blog post.
- Follow a ritual. Taking a bath, drinking a cup of tea, dimming the lights. Whatever it is, create a routine that works for you, and stick through it every night. Your body likes habits.
- Don't be shy about your need for sleep. Most people brag about how they cope with less than 6 hours of sleep a day, as if there's an ongoing worldwide competition on who can sleep less. It's OK to leave early from an engagement, and to schedule that dinner an hour earlier so that you don't shift too much away from your sleeping schedule.
You can find many lists of things to do in order to fall asleep on the internet - but the point is to go from reading/knowing about something, to actually doing it. And that's where a coach comes in handy. I can help you reflect on exactly why you're not getting enough sleep and to explore the answers.
Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449130/
Sleep: A Health Imperative: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353049/
Effects of insufficient sleep on circadian rhythmicity and expression amplitude of the human blood transcriptome: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/12/E1132
This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.