Sleep is one of the weapons you need against stress

There are many ‘weapons’ you need in your arsenal to ward off the effects of stress in a high pressure environment.

You need to eat well, exercise, reduce alcohol intake, and get an appropriate amount of sleep.  Of course all of these things are good for our general well being and will assist in warding off a number of other ailments later in life as well, including heart disease and stroke.

However sufficient sleep, and GOOD sleep, is one of those things that is often neglected, as we rush to cram as much in to our days as possible.  And lack of sleep can make you feel dreadful – any wonder that it was (and probably still is) used as a weapon of torture.Sleep reduces stress

Did you know for example, that:

  • Staying awake for 17 hours decreases performance to the same extent as a blood alcohol level of about 0.05%.  So the next time your boss asks you to pull an ‘all nighter’, you are more likely to make mistakes.  If you are involved in a big transaction requiring long hours even a 15 minute power nap will help restore energy and reduce the risk of errors.
  • Most people are drowsy around 3pm and 3am, when most fatigue-related accidents occur (and also when the urge to eat high carbohydrate and/or sugar is at its highest), doing away with all good intentions on eating well
  • When you are asleep, memories and experiences are sorted and stored for future reference.  Deep REM sleep often brings weird dreams as your brain stores these things.
  • Adults aged 25-55 yrs need at least 7 hours sleep per day for good health, in either one block or 3 shorter blocks.
  • In an 8 hour period of sleep, most people will have 5 blocks of 90 minute sleep cycles.
  • If your partner tells you that you snore, go and see a sleep specialist as you could have obstructive sleep apnoea which means that your brain could be waking you up hundreds of times a night to remind you to breath without you even knowing it.  No wonder you’re tired.

A relaxing routine before bed will help get you to sleep.  Importantly, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed.  If you have trouble going to sleep download a relaxation CD or a sleep App that will play relaxing sounds to help you drift off to sleep – if you concentrate on those sounds without going over your ‘to do’ list in your head in bed, it will help get you to sleep.

MOST importantly, avoid reading your phone or tablet in bed.  These devices, while convenient, emit blue light which is on the same light spectrum emitted by the morning sun, as opposed to the light of the evening which is on the red spectrum.  The light from your device interferes with your natural circadian rhythms and if you are already someone who has trouble going to sleep, it will make it worse.

Read a book, or an e-reader which is not backlit (black text on grey background, like a book).

As William Blake said:

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.

Anyone feel like a nap now?