Sleep is one of life’s most precious natural gifts that we can not live without.
Sleep is infinitely powerful for physical, mental and overall health. Every person on this Earth knows how it feels when you don’t have enough sleep.
Not great right?
We’re going to sink into a deep slumber of facts and tips to make you more aware of the positive power that sleep can have on your life.
Why is sleep good for you?
The benefits of sleep are mentioned over and over again through the hands of time, but is it merely gospel?
Or is a life of quality good sleep the secret to a healthier and happier time spent on this planet?
If you’re looking for a book to read about sleep, check out Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Dr Matthew Walker, the figures and stats will blow your mind. Dr Walker says:
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day - Mother Nature's best effort yet at contra-death.” ― Matthew Walker, 'Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams'
It has been proved that good quality sleep lowers your risk of health problems like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and mental health disorders.
During sleep your hormones replenish their stores, cellular level repairs take place, and your blood pressure and breathing rate drops putting you into a state of recovery to wake up hopefully restored and reduce your risk of ill health.
Problems people can have with sleep
Here is a non-exhaustive list (if you pardon the pun) of problems that people can have with sleep:
- Not getting enough hours of sleep
- Not sticking to a consistent sleep schedule
- Waking up in the night
- Trouble falling asleep
- Not waking up feeling rested or recovered
- Waking up too early
- Going to bed too late
- Struggling to maintain focus throughout the day
- Electronics before or in bed
- Sleep apnea
- Lucid dreaming
Continued sleep problems can end up negatively impacting everyday life, and can interrupt your work, relationships, hobbies, and overall health.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak to a medical professional for help.
Why is not getting enough sleep bad?
Sleep deprivation in all its forms, whether that is not getting enough or having interrupted sleep, has a negative impact on the body.
Dr Walker concluded that “the physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise.”
We know not getting enough sleep is bad. But what impact can it have on your daily life?
- More prone to injuries or accidents, especially when driving or operating machinery
- Less productivity due to reduced cognitive ability
- Less verbal reasoning
- Slowed thinking
- Reduced attention span
- Lack of energy
- Mood changes
- Relationship struggles with colleagues, friends and family due to the above
There are many more knock-on effects of experiencing sleep inefficiency. If you liken lack of sleep to walking around all day with a horrible hangover, life would be much easier and more positive when you’re having a healthy sleep cycle/ not tainted with a horrible hangover.
Reasons why people may have trouble sleeping
Everyone’s lives are unique, wonderful and challenging in different ways. Lack of sleep affects presidents of countries and ordinary people alike.
Lack of sleep can be down to thousands of reasons and may change daily but here are some of the most common ones.
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Lifestyle and job
- Living Conditions
- Irregular work hours/night shift work
- Jet lag and international travel
The kicker with troubled sleep is that the more you’re worrying about sleeping, the less likely you are to have a successful night’s sleep.
How to get a better night’s sleep
We know that our Vivida community adores travel, and travelling comes with many wonders but disrupted sleep patterns are certainly a side effect of having enormous amounts of fun!
We have compiled a list of tips and tricks for how to get a better night’s sleep.
Things that may worsen your sleep
Serious sleep conditions aside, we are going to make you more alert to aspects that most probably won’t help you drift off into the land of nod where you can dream about sandy beaches and high winds for the dream kitesurfing trip…
You know it, we know it. But it’s screens. Blue light from devices has been known to suppress melatonin levels and hold back sleep inertia. You may also be tempted to stay online and chat with friends or surf the web. Notifications may disturb you during naps or night sleeps, so staying away from phones and TV’s a few hours before bed will make for a more peaceful sleep wind down.
Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep enormously as it reduces the amount of time you spend in REM, so you will wake up feeling un-refreshed. Alcohol may initially help you fall asleep but your overall quality of sleep will be worsened. Also due to the fact that alcohol is a diuretic so you’re more likely to wake up at night to need the loo.
Eating Before Bed
Eating releases insulin, which is a hormone that promotes food for energy. This process of producing energy makes your brain and body think you’re in the wake cycle not the sleep cycle and your circadian rhythm will signal wakefulness and interfere with your body's ability to fall asleep, so try and put at least two hours before eating and falling asleep.
Exercising Before Bed
Exercising right before bed raises your blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate, all cues for your body to stay alert and awake. Back in the era where running for food was crucial for survival, exercise readies your body for a fight and means you are less likely to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) when you need it.
Things that may help your sleep
Here are some swap outs you can make to perfect your sleep wind down routine and make a better night sleep come easier.
Switch your screens for a book to eliminate the blue light risk, and fill your brain with unadvertised wisdom! Reading will reduce mental chatter, tire out your cognition and help you drift off into a state of relaxation faster than screens.
Swapping your evening glass of wine, coffee or hot chocolate for a herbal tea is a good alternative to eliminate caffeine or sugar before bed. Herbal tea has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy. Find a tea with Valerian root in it. Valerian root has been used to treat stress, nervousness and racing heart rates. Valerian root aids sleep without the side effects of normal sleep aids and medications.
A magnesium supplement has had proven links to aid sleep, if supplementation isn’t an option for you. Foods with high levels of magnesium in them can be a better snack option if you are hungry before bed. For example, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, soya milk and spinach are all very high in magnesium. So a hot almond milk with a sprinkle of chia seeds on top would be a warming and relaxing option for bed.
Yoga before bed is an alternative if you have had a long sedentary day and want to move and stretch out before bed without over-energising yourself. Yoga switches your nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system or also called “rest and digest”, particularly yoga with a strong focus on breath work. Lowering the heart rate and quieting the mind has a meditative effect on the body and mind. Yoha increases alpha brain waves which are present in meditation and a lovely recipe for a delicious night’s sleep.
Vivida Sleep Mask
Vivida's luxury sleep masks are handcrafted from 100% natural 16 momme mulberry silk. The mask cushions your eyes 360 degrees and the adjustable strap covers the ears to muffle external sound and ensure your sleep is as restful and uninterrupted as possible.
Take this sleep mask on all your adventures for travelling on long flights, relaxing in beachside hammocks and cocoon yourself away from your surroundings and slip into a restful sleep.
Use it for naps, longer sleeps, and savasana in yoga. Our masks accommodate head sizes and have a no-slip. Its plush, padded interior provides luxurious comfort.
The natural silk properties prevent signs of ageing with the amino acids found in silk, whilst the moisture retentive properties keep your skin hydrated whilst you sleep, perfect for travel, silk reduces frizzing of the hair whilst can cause hair damage. In addition, Vivida makes sure the silk is anti-fungal to reduce allergens clinging to the surface.
Silk Blackout Eye Mask
In an ideal world, the most positive things to help you sleep better should be natural, like herbal remedies, yoga, reading, breathwork and redesigning your “sleep routine” but we know this isn’t always the reality. Try staying away from synthetic sleep drugs where possible, but if serious sleep problems are a nightmare for you, don’t be ashamed to seek out professional help. Sleep is the most powerful tool you can give your body and brain so we’re with you on the fight for better sleep!
Indie Bornhoft is a personal trainer and watersports coach, who encourages her clients to make movement their mantra. She has coached every ability in wakeboarding, paddleboarding, SUP fitness, and windsurfing for over ten years, and is highly qualified in all disciplines. Discover more about her drive to just keep moving and be inspired to connect to the raw power of body & spirit through fitness.