The secret to a good night sleep

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”  – Thomas Dekker

Sleep and health

Sleep is the time that the body repair and regenerate itself.

Sleep is so important to our health. Indeed, sleep is the time that the body repair and regenerate itself. Research has found that deprivation of sleep can increase oxidative DNA damage, whereas a few good nights of sleep can help to restore balance and decrease cell injury [1].  Disrupted sleep can also cause immune system dysfunction and increase inflammation in the body [2]. Hence, people who consistently do not sleep well, a state called chronic sleep deficiency, is at risk of developing and exacerbating cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, heart attack, stroke), obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, and cancer [3].   

Optimal sleep duration is 7 hours or more.

For optimal health, the recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society [4]. However, for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt or illnesses, sleeping more than 9 hours a day regularly may be needed. It is unclear whether sleeping more than 9 hours a day regularly for healthy adults has any health consequence [4], nevertheless, it may not be productive though.

Sleep hygiene

To promote a good night’s sleep, healthy lifestyle habits need to be cultivated, which is referred to as sleep hygiene. Here are a few common recommendations for sleep hygiene [5]:

Say no to smoking. You will sleep better.

Avoid caffeine, cigarette and alcohol

Drinking coffee or tea or Red Bull close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, especially among those who are sensitive to caffeine. Smoking is a detrimental habit and long-term smokers often developed sleep problems. Drinking alcohol may help to get into sleep faster, however, one tends to wake up more often in the night, causing disruption in sleeping pattern.  

Exercise regularly

Exercise regularly makes you sleep well.

Regular physical exercise can positively affect the body mechanisms in many ways, including heart function, mood, blood sugar metabolism,  brain development, and fitness level, all of which has an impact on sleep quality [6]. Having a regular exercise routine is especially important for middle-aged and elderly adults, many studies consistently shown that exercise promotes increased sleep efficiency and duration regardless of the mode and intensity of activity [7]. So, pick your favourite exercise and do it regularly.

Manage stress

Getting a full body massage is a good way to de-stress and improve sleep.

Psychological stress makes one awake since the body is in a fight or flight mode due to increased adrenal response [8]. The body is simply running in overdrive and not ready for sleep at this stage. Hence, it is important to learn to relax before bedtime. Reading a book, listening to soft music, doing yoga, meditation, massage, or having a hot bath are all ways to promote relaxation, which help to distress and promote sleep quality.

Reduce noise

Sleep with a pair of ear plugs if you can’t control the noise outside at night.

Noise is clearly a sleep disturbance. Noises at night within one’s normal surroundings, such as traffic noise, loud music next door, plumbing sound etc., have the potential to impact sleep, even if one is not conscious of them. Noise can cause lighter sleep due to increased arousal, especially to people who are sensitive to sound. Therefore, try to sleep in a quiet environment with minimal background noise. Not surprisingly, people often reported having deep and good quality sleep when they are sleeping in a natural environment with green space that has lower noise pollution [9].

Keep to a regular sleep timing

Make sure you go to bed at regular time every night

Our body has its own biological clocks. Our brain functions, cells, and even down to molecular level all keep to a natural rhythm. Disruption of this clock results in irregularity in the body metabolism [10]. Irregular sleep schedules have also been associated with poor quality sleep, as well as sleep problems. No doubt, it is a good idea to go to bed at a regular time daily.

Natural remedies for sleep

While maintaining sleep hygiene provide a good support for a good night sleep, there will be times that extra boost will be needed to counter the effect of additional stress or disruption that lead to a sleepless night. Here are some natural remedies that can be used as sleeping aids:

  1. Melatonin – is a natural hormone generated by the pineal gland and release at night to promote sleep. Taking melatonin supplement has been shown to improve sleep without any side-effects.
  2. Herbs – there are some herbs that have been used traditionally for relaxation and sleep improvement, among them, include valerian, chamomile, and lavender. These herbs can calm the nerves and improve sleep quality. A cup of hot chamomile tea, double-strong, half an hour before sleep can be a good help for relaxation and sleep.
  3. Magnesium – is a mineral for muscle relaxation. It can help to improve sleep efficiency and duration

A cup of hot chamomile tea, double-strong, half an hour before sleep can be a good help for relaxation and sleep.

Summary

Sleep is important for good health. Maintain a good sleep hygiene is essential to allow the body to achieve optimal sleep. Remember to avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol before sleep, exercise regularly, reduce stress and noise, as well as keeping to a regular sleep timing are among the lifestyle habits that one should develop. Melatonin, herbal teas, and magnesium are some natural sleep aids that can improve sleep for those who have difficulty. Sweet dream!

Good night!

 

References

[1]        C.A. Everson, C.J. Henchen, A. Szabo, N. Hogg, Cell Injury and Repair Resulting from Sleep Loss and Sleep Recovery in Laboratory Rats, Sleep. 37 (2014) 1929–1940. doi:10.5665/sleep.4244.

[2]        M.R. Opp, J.M. Krueger, Sleep and immunity: A growing field with clinical impact, Brain. Behav. Immun. 47 (2015) 1–3. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.03.011.

[3]        F.S. Luyster, P.J. Strollo, P.C. Zee, J.K. Walsh, Sleep: A Health Imperative, Sleep. 35 (2012) 727–734. doi:10.5665/sleep.1846.

[4]        N.F. Watson, M.S. Badr, G. Belenk, D.L. Bliwise, Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult, Am. Acad. Sleep Med. Sleep Res. Soc. 38 (2015) 843–844. doi:10.5665/sleep.4716.

[5]        L. a Irish, C.E. Kline, H.E. Gunn, D.J. Buysse, H. Martica, The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: a review of empirical evidence, Sleep Med. Rev. 22 (2015) 23–36. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001.The.

[6]        S. Uchida, K. Shioda, Y. Morita, C. Kubota, M. Ganeko, N. Takeda, Exercise effects on sleep physiology, Front. Neurol. APR (2012) 1–5. doi:10.3389/fneur.2012.00048.

[7]        B.A. Dolezal, E. V. Neufeld, D.M. Boland, J.L. Martin, C.B. Cooper, Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review, Adv. Prev. Med. 2017 (2017) 1–14. doi:10.1155/2017/1364387.

[8]        D.S. Goldstein, Adrenal responses to stress, Cell. Mol. Neurobiol. 30 (2010) 1433–1440. doi:10.1007/s10571-010-9606-9.

[9]        T. Astell-Burt, X. Feng, G.S. Kolt, Does access to neighbourhood green space promote a healthy duration of sleep? Novel findings from a cross-sectional study of 259 319 Australians, BMJ Open. 3 (2013) 1–6. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003094.

[10]      W. Huang, B. Marcheva, J. Bass, W. Huang, K.M. Ramsey, B. Marcheva, J. Bass, Circadian rhythms , sleep , and metabolism Find the latest version : Review series Circadian rhythms , sleep , and metabolism, 121 (2011) 2133–2141. doi:10.1172/JCI46043.rons.

 

 

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