Sleep to dream
As we age, we need more sleep – which is incredibly frustrating, as we often have so much more on our plates than when we were younger.
Many women especially, juggle full-time jobs, with housekeeping, children big or small or adult, aging parents who are often harder work than our children. Then they have to find time for their partners, exercise and sleep!
Different people need different amounts of sleep. The quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity. The average amount of sleep needed is seven to eight hours, but some people only need five for a quality sleep, yet others need nine or ten!
My husband laughs at me, as I go like a clockwork bunny all through the summer months sleeping only 7 hours a night, but also mind you, packing on weight as my body actually wants more sleep and cannot lose or maintain my weight when I am sleep deprived for my body’s needs.
In winter, I sleep 9 – 10 hours lose a pile of weight and am so much happier!
Listening again to your bodies needs is of primary importance. Just because everyone else says you should only need 7 hours sleep, but your body wants more or less, means, you sleep more or less!
A lack of deep restorative sleep has been repeatedly shown to cause immune activation. There are five phases of sleep we must go through every night for our bodies and minds to repair. Scientists have broken this down into two types REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non – REM sleep,
You go through the light stages of sleep – stages 1 and 2, interspersed with deep sleep 3 and 4, as well as dreaming REM. As we go through the night, we tend to have more frequent REM sleep (dreaming). Stages 3 and 4 are the most restorative, whilst REM sleep the brain is highly active. The annoying thing is, if you are woken up throughout the night during stages 3 or 4, you, unfortunately, do not go back to that deep sleep, but go back to stage 1.
Your brain needs quality sleep as much as your body does. Brain researchers have found that while you sleep, your brain repairs itself – something it cannot do whilst you are awake. During the day, small connections can break, nutrients become depleted and the brains infrastructure needs repair, and the memory needs to be defragmented like your computer.
Whilst your brain is switched off, it is able to do this. Like your brain, your immune system is too busy during the day taking care of you. It needs you to sleep to repair itself, recharge and perform maintenance functions on your body. It also needs us to turn off the stress levels in our body. But if you go to bed stressed, your immune system cannot relax.
Which is why we often become ill when suffering from long-term sleep deprivation.
Signs that you are not getting enough quality sleep are; do you fall asleep in front of the TV? Do you start to nod off when you are driving the car for more than an hour or two? Do you find you have to catch up on sleep on days off? Do you wake up most mornings feeling tired rather than rested? Can you take a cat nap at the drop of a hat?
There are two types of insomnia, both which affect the immune system. One is self-imposed insomnia – due to the person not allowing themselves enough time to sleep, and the other form of insomnia is caused by mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Sufferers are too worried to sleep, due to things such as financial issues, divorce, ill partner or child or personal health issues. Or a partner constantly snoring!
Medical studies over the years have linked obesity and heart disease with sleep deprivation.
If you are not sleeping well you are not ageing well.
To develop a good sleep pattern follow the next few steps.
- Set a bedtime. If we like it or not, our bodies are creatures of habit, even if our minds are not. We are meant to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
- Create a peaceful sleep environment. Remove all disturbances. Make sure there is no noise, light, television, computers or phones. The room must be dark, and the bedroom must be the correct temperature – cool enough so that you can snuggle under your blanket, but not so cold that you have to curl up into a ball. Obviously your mattress and pillows must be comfortable, and your sheets clean, soft and fresh.
- Develop a sleep ritual. If you like to read for ½ hour in bed every night – do this every night. If you like to meditate, do that. If you need to make a list for the next day, do that.
- Get sleep accessories. If you need to wear an eye pillow to keep the light out, wear one. If you need earplugs to keep the noise out, wear them. If you need flannelette pyjamas in winter to keep you warm – wear them.
- Talk to your sleep partner. Speak to your partner about sleep. If your relationship is suffering because they are keeping you awake or you them, work at how you can both make it work better. Help each other get to sleep so you both wake up feeling refreshed. Some couples choose to sleep in separate rooms just so they do not disturb each other.
- Keep your bed for sleeping and lovemaking. Your bed is not a place to answer emails, watch TV or talk on the phone.
- Do not fret when you cannot sleep. No one has actually died of insomnia.
- Try natural sleep tablets. Avoid any chemical sleep tablets as you will build an addiction to them. Try natural sleep blends or natural Melatonin – there will be one that works perfectly for you. Make sure you have a glass of water beside the bed so if you wake and cannot settle again, you can take another natural tablet without getting up and waking even further.
- Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day and before bedtime. Often the reason you wake up at night is simply because you are thirsty!