How to stay on track in 2018

This week Ed and I were looking at the issues of how to be more efficient in 2018. We were looking at tips and tricks that would enable us to pay more attention and be more effective at what we were doing. The bit that struck me, apart from the many good tips, was our need for sleep. This health online article intrigued me in several ways.

I was struck by the amount of people such as Maggie Thatcher, and indeed myself, who would feel ok getting by on four or five hours sleep and still be able to get up and do a full days work. I was also reminded of the a piece of research I read years ago that I think came from the sleep research unit at Southampton University that suggested that the reason women lived longer that men was because they tend to sleep more. The research concluded that both men and women lived around the same amount of waking hours although women over time slept for more hours.

Anyway in this article researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy had analysed data from 16 separate sleep studies conducted over the last 25 years, covering more than 1.3 million people and more than 100,000 deaths. Their findings were published in the journal Sleep.

The research found that those who generally slept for less than six hours a night, were 12 percent more likely to experience a premature death. However, people who slept more than eight to nine hours per night had an even higher risk, at 30 percent. The researchers also found that people who reduced their sleep time from seven hours to five hours or less had 1.7 times the risk of death from all causes.

Research shows that the healthy amount of sleep for the average adult is around seven to eight hours each night.

People who can get by on four hours of sleep sometimes brag about their strength and endurance. But recent scientific studies show that a lack of sleep causes many significant changes in the body and increases your risk for serious health concerns such as obesity, disease, and even early death.

Sleep is an important function for many reasons. When you sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that help:
• Decrease risk for health conditions
• Manage your hunger levels
• Maintain your immune system
• Retain memory

There is also evidence that the dream part of the sleep cycle helps with the processing of emotional issues while the deep sleep state helps with the repair of the physical body. The research too suggests that you can’t catch up or make up loss of sleep, this is a myth.

It looks like the research is telling us that a regular 7 to 8 hours is good. If we slip into a regular sleep pattern that gives use less than six or more than eight hours we are starting to negatively effect our health.

Building good sleep habits
Now this bit is interesting because it reflects what Ed and I were talking about as a good way to be more efficient in 2018. If you are getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. Try adopting some of these practices to help you sleep better and longer:

Schedule your sleep: Your system and your brain both create and exist on habits. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week, including weekends. Doing this establishes a regular sleep-wake cycle. It may help you adopt the habit of doing the same things each night before bed, such as taking a warm bath or reading.

Avoid stimulants: Caffeine, chocolate, and nicotine can keep you awake past your bedtime. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy initially, but will disrupt your rest later in the night.

Do not use your bedroom as an entertainment centre: Your bedroom should be for sleeping in. Your brain needs to relax. Media, phones, tablets and TVs wake your brain, allow your brains to go to sleep without any stimulation.

Get your lighting right: Twilight, as it gradually gets darker is a signal to your brain to wind down for sleep. Try using progressively dimmer lighting as you approach your sleep time. Avoid going into the bright light of the bathroom to clean your teeth it will only wake your brain. There are some light altering alarm systems that imitate both the twilight of evening and the gradual light of morning, they may help.

Make your bed comfy: A number of new mattresses on the market are aimed at increasing comfort, including those that have “cooling” effects to keep a person from getting too warm while they sleep. Memory foam mattresses conform to a person’s body, providing extra shape and support.

Other sleep aids: Might include eye mask, earplugs, snoring aids, or other tools that will help create a restful environment.

Exercise regularly: Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep faster at night. Exercise also promotes deeper, more restful sleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime, since this can leave you too energised to sleep. Exercise of at least twenty minutes a day of raised heart rate will help with this.

Relieve stress during the day: Try adopting some stress-reducing technique before bed. Keep a journal by your bedside to write down what’s bothering you. Start practicing yoga, learn to meditate, get regular massages, or take long walks.

Apps for sleep: When all else fails there are some apps that can help you sleep better. There are self hypnosis apps and recording that may help.

Mindfulnesss Based Stress Reduction – MBSR: An eight session programme is full of techniques and exercises that will help you take control of your system rather than allowing your system to be in control of you.

Whatever your resolutions or intentions for the year of 2018 the issues raised in this blog, if followed, will give you the energy that creates the willpower that will help you succeed.

Take care and have a happy 2018

Sean x

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