Monday, May 18, 2020

Head down-bed down: Why Sleep is so Essential

Best advice ever

"A good soldier sleeps when he can".  This was some great advice given to me as a young soldier.   It was a luxury to have a routine in the military, as at any moment it could all change in an instant.  Soldiers have an amazing ability to some sleep (or 'Egyptian PT) anywhere, anytime and in any condition.   You'd have to and the reason is frank.  If you're fucked, then you're useless.

I've never been a 'lay in' kind of person, when I wake up I like to get up, and normally that'll be around 0700am, providing I can get my head down before 2200. I'd do my training, have a bit of brekkie and start the day refreshed and ready to go.

Until I became a Dad

Holy flip that all changed! Particularly in the winter months my little boy used to  wake through the night, screaming - like SCREAMING! It got to a point where I felt so run down, I had to take a day off work because my immune system was shagged.

I remember one night I had the house to myself and I had the first full night's un-interrupted sleep in a year.  No kid-no wife, just a king size bed to myself, to go 'star fish' for eight hours; eight hours of peace and coziness....aaaaaaaahhh.  

KA-POW!!! the next morning I was up spring-ier' than Tigger.  I was fresh as a daisy, even before my alarm, I felt absolutely amazing! Corrrr it was like, well I don't know, like having the best night sleep of your life I s'pose. 

We all need it and we all love it.  So what's the point of it then, and how does sleeping benefit us?

Researchers suggest that one of the most vital roles of sleep is to process all the information the brain has absorbed throughout the day, as well as the processing we: 

  • Repair
  • Rebuild 
  • Recycle 
  • Strengthen cells, bone and tissue

How much sleep do we need?

The National Sleep association recommend that the average adult requires between 7-9 hours sleep. Any less than 7 hour's then your in 'sleep debt', which can be made up, say for instance if you miss out on a hour or two one night.  But if it continued over the week, the debt would increase and unfortunately trying to catch up over the weekend, will throw your sleep pattern (circadian rhythm) well out of whack, leaving you even more tired!

Circadian Rhythm

The Circadian Rhythm is Basically our 'body clock', which circulates over a 24 hour period.  It's what wakes us up in the morning feeling refreshed and makes us feel tired when it's starts to get dark.

Stages of sleep

75% of our night's sleep consists of Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) of which there are four stages, three and four being most critical as this is where:

  • The muscles relax and blood flow increases. 
  • Muscles repair 
  • Immune system recovers 
  • Growth Hormone is released 

The other 25% consists of Rapid Eye Movement (REM), and this is our deep sleep. It helps improve brain energy for the body and brain, and improves performance for the day time.

Between the hours of 1000pm-0200am is where most of the physical repair takes place and 0200am-0600am is where the psychological repair takes place. 

Get a good sleep for weight loss!

The hormones Ghrelin and Leptin help regulate hunger and satiety and again a mixed up sleep pattern will throw your regulation right out, making you more likely to grab high energy, sugary carbohydrates.

A study was published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Obesity, on the correlation between sleep time and weight loss and found that over a six month period participants on average saw an average weight loss of 6.5kg (including a balanced diet, and a decrease of 500kcal per day). The researchers basic interpretation of the study said that “chronic stress may trigger hormonal reactions that result in an intake of energy-dense foods, so that eating becomes a “coping behaviour” and palatable food becomes “addictive”.

Top tips for a top kip

  • Avoid watching the TV especially highly exciting/stressful programmes e.g. Sports, dramas and the news 30mins before bed. Read a book instead, ideally not a gripping one 
  • Down tools earlier. Everyone's got to work but switch off. Get some family time in and relax...without wine!
  • Cut down on the alcohol, caffeinated drinks and sugary treats and drinks 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Have warm bath or shower hour bed time to raise the core temperature.
  • Cool the room temperature down to below...
  • Write a diary, including at least x3 positives from the day.  Write down any wins/losses you can learn from
  • Write a to do list for the next day, so that you're not thinking about what to tomorrow
  • There are loads of supplements you can research, magnesium being one them, but I'd say clean up the diet first 


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