There’s nothing better than snuggling into a warm, cosy bed and dropping off to sleep. But with staggering numbers of people struggling to either drop off to sleep, or stay asleep, statistics say that one in five of us is sleep deprived.
From our first day on this Earth to our last, we need to sleep. The amount of sleep we require depends on our age and stage of life – babies snooze in short bursts, waking frequently for food, teenagers seem to sleep all day, exhausted parents wish they could sleep more, but they can’t. Whilst many sensible adults try to gain regular, respectable hours of sleep, so many of us are failing to wake refreshed and revived. Why?
Stages of sleep
Let’s look at how sleep works first. We all sleep in cycles which are part of our internal biological clocks and which whilst we don’t remember them, they are critically important to maintaining our sleep hygiene.
The first phase (stage 1) is a light sleep only lasting about 10 minutes – this is when we get all relaxed and dreamy, and our mind and body start to slow down. The second phase (stage 2) is when our brain waves and muscle activity start to decrease to prepare the mind for a deeper sleep. During this stage, the brain produces spikes in brain waves which are thought to play a role in long term memory consolidation and sensory processing. The third stage and fourth phases (stages 3 and 4) we enter a far deeper sleep and you’ll find people are much harder to wake up. We become more relaxed and our breathing slows dramatically as internally our body works to regulate our immune system and repair and heal our bodies. The fifth and final stage is the most well-known – the REM phase. This is when we experience dreams (and often wake up remembering them) and it’s believed this stage plays a critical role in regulating the brain’s ability to learn and remember. Sleep allows our bodies to clean themselves up, refresh and reset for the following day.
Tips for sleep hygiene
Waking up refreshed is enviable to the 1 in 5 who is clinically diagnosed as sleep deprived. There are a few tricks we can make sure we do however, to give ourselves the best change of a decent night’s snooze.
- Steer clear of stimulants before bed – tea, coffee, alcohol.
- Make time to move – exercise can drastically improve the quality of your sleep. Even a gentle walk can help!
- Put down your device and turn off the TV for the hour before you turn in. The noise and light stimulation aren’t conducive to calming your brain and body.
- Get bedroom ready! Ensure your bedroom is comfortable – it sounds obvious but make sure you’re not too hot or cold, have the right pillows to be relaxed.
- Relax! Try a gentle meditation to calm your mind and body. When our body is wired in ‘fight or flight mode’ and is constantly buzzing, it’s almost impossible for our poor overloaded nervous systems to calm down into a parasympathetic mode where we can sleep well.
Finding a solution for you
At Evolve Manual Therapy, we’re experienced in helping many sleep deprived or struggling clients – from busy Executives to tired Mums. Our therapists treat clients in our clinic with a gentle, hands on therapy called CranioSacral Therapy (CST) which helps to calm the nervous system with light touch, non-invasive techniques. CST helps by stimulating the flow of cerebrospinal fluid which in turn flushes out the toxins and waste products in our bodies.
Our client Carla says ‘I came into Evolve absolutely exhausted. I was struggling to get to sleep every night and as a result just wasn’t functioning properly during the day. It had started to impact elements of my physical health and was affecting me mentally as well. I’d tried everything under the sun to help me sleep and nothing had worked. Within a few sessions of CST at Evolve, I was amazed when I calmly just dropped off to sleep! Small steps, but it’s such an achievement for me.’
If like Carla, you’re desperate for a solution to increase the quality of your sleep and the standard tips aren’t giving you the relief you need, book a consult with one of our expert therapists. A few sessions can make all the difference and provide a night free from tossing and turning, instead providing refreshing, health boosting sleep.