Sleep is the best medicine
SLEEP is the time when the body rests and repairs itself. But research suggests that in these continually switched-on times, we are struggling with this basic component of health.
In fact, 33 to 45 per cent of adults sleep either poorly or not long enough most nights, according to the Sleep Health Foundation.
Yes, we're restless and wakeful, plagued by anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out), says Dr Rubin Naiman, a behavioural sleep and dream medicine specialist who offers sleep programs to leading spas around the world.
He says loss of REM sleep and dreaming is his greatest concern, with new research suggesting that this may increase the risk of memory loss and depression.
While getting a good night's sleep is a science, there are some simple steps you can take to get eight hours of rest to de-stress and de-age your body.
1. Track your sleep with a device such as a Fitbit so you know what to improve. Know first that every night's sleep includes brief periods of wakefulness; light sleep, which usually makes up half the night and is good for memory and learning; deep sleep, which is important for the immune system and physical recovery; and REM sleep, which typically occurs when you're coming out of deep sleep and helps with mental restoration. Your Fitbit app can recommend a personalised sleep schedule based on your sleep goal.
2. Before bed, limit screen time on your TV, tablet, computer or phone.
The blue light emitted by these devices can reduce night-time levels of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. You could also try orange glasses that block out blue light - check out optimoz.com.au
3. Makeover your bedroom.
You'll need shades or curtains that can be drawn to make your room totally dark, a supportive mattress, good quality pillows in latex or foam, natural fibres for bed linen to reduce allergy responses that promote wakefulness, a fan for dropping the temperature on hot nights and low lighting. Check out GE Align PM bulbs that produce an amber glow that doesn't interfere with melatonin.
4. Put your mind at ease.
Deal with any worries you have before bed by writing in a journal or discussing your worries with someone close.
5. Sip something soothing.
The Sleep Health Foundation suggests avoiding caffeine and a heavy meal at least two hours before bed. Smoking also makes it difficult to go to sleep, so it's another reason
to quit. While alcohol may help you get to sleep, it makes it harder to stay asleep. Try a herbal tea or a hot milk instead - cow, coconut, almond or organic soy, of course.
I like it teamed with The Healthy Chef's Naked Chocolate.
6. Relax your body before bed.
The Fitbit Versa offers guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate.
Helen Hawkes is a health coach and counsellor
You can get your very own Fitbit Versa Smartwatch by taking up this 12-month digital subscription offer. It's easy to subscribe, simply sign up online now at gympietimes.com.au/fitbit or phone 1300 361 604.
* Only $7.50 a week billed every four weeks on a 12-month contract for new digital subscribers (minimum annual cost $390). Allow 20 days for Fitbit Versa to arrive. Offer available while stocks last. Conditions apply.