Monday, May 24, 2010

In search of the elusive shut-eye

My efforts to get more sleep have been completely derailed. Last night, I went to bed at 4am. Ethan woke me up at 7am. Yes, that's correct, folks... I got a measly 3 hours sleep.

According to this BBC article I'm "12% more likely to die over a 25-year period than those who [get] an 'ideal' six to eight hours".
Hmm. No thanks!

So, in light of this recent news, I've been doing some additional research into sleep and ways to encourage my body to catch more of those elusive Zzz.

So, here are 10 things you need to know about sleep.
1. Bath Before Bedtime. A hot bath has been a much-quoted remedy for sleeplessness for years, but how does it work? The body's normal core temperature is about 37.4 degrees Celsius. You might think that raising this temperature in a hot bath is what tricks your body into feeling sleepy. In fact, it is the cooling down that occurs when you get out of the bath that facilitates sleep. It is only recently that the drop in body temperature has been recognised as a trigger for sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, try having a warm bath about an hour before bedtime.

2. Insomnia. Insomnia plagues people in huge numbers, and once the body has asserted an erratic sleeping pattern, it can be very hard to break. Sleep restriction therapy is one potential method of breaking such patterns. A sufferer is restricted to spending less time in their bedrooms, whether they sleep or not. But it's not easy, as Professor Colin Espie from the U of Glasgow Sleep Centre explains: "People with insomnia will typically spend longer in bed to try and catch up. What we do with sleep restriction is drastically reduce the amount of time they spend in bed. That's a difficult thing to do." The aim of this treatment is to make the subject so tired that their body will be forced to re-establish a normal sleeping patter. If you're struggling with insomnia, a sleep restriction therapy programme is definitely an option to consider. The key is to stay in the bedroom only to sleep, and always get up at the same time each day. Consulting your GP is always a good first step towards tackling insomnia.

3. The art of Napping. The nap can be a great way of boosting energy levels, as long as you observe the rules over when you nap, and for how long. Naps are most effective when taken in the afternoon between two and five. The optimum nap durations is 30 minutes. Your body will naturally resist attempts to nap between seven and twelve o'clock in the morning, and between six and eight o'clock in the evening.

Check out the article to check out the rest of the list. Happy sleeping.

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