Using this time to focus on your Sleeping Cycle

As part of our ongoing focus to help you get the information to make yourself better and improve your game. We're sharing some of the things that are top of our minds in the office at the moment. Like you, we are working remotely, balancing our family interactions in between the workload given our closer proximity. We are spending more time on our health and fitness as we have a little more time up our sleeve without the usual travel compensation that you normally reconcile in the day.  

Over the next four issues, we will be sharing some of the information on things we have been personally applying within our daily routines, in the attempt to improve our overall performance.

Getting a night of good sleep can be tough, and this can lead to feeling less than refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Falling asleep and waking up are brain processes we don't fully understand.

Even if you feel like you're unconscious until morning, sleep has a typical structure, cycling in and out of lighter and deeper stages. All stages of sleep are essential for waking refreshed; if sleep is disrupted or you're not getting enough, waking up in the morning can be hard.

Most adults need between seven and nine hours a night to ensure they're functioning at their best. Getting enough sleep is vital for good physical and mental health. Getting enough good-quality sleep will ensure you wake up feeling alert and are more productive during the day.

Everyday habits that may be affecting your sleep 

Bright light in the morning helps reset your body clock and keeps your circadian rhythms ticking along regularly. To help keep your sleep/wake schedule regular, and improve health and alertness, seek out bright light in the morning when you wake up.

In contrast, too much bright light at night can make falling asleep difficult. This is because bright light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. This is why it is not advised that you use devices like mobile phones, tablets, or laptops in bed before sleep.

Eating a large meal too close to bedtime can put pressure on your oesophageal sphincter (the muscles at the end of the esophagus that prevent acid and stomach contents from traveling backward from the stomach) when you lie down, causing heartburn that can disturb sleep. Eating your last main meal at least two to three hours before bed will ensure food is adequately digested.

 Fluid intake should also be reduced before bed, so you don't wake up needing to go to the toilet. Look to spread your fluid intake throughout the day, so you don't go through the highs and lows of hydration and dehydration.

Alcohol can make you feel sleepy but consumed too close to bedtime can also disrupt sleep. The metabolism of alcohol during sleep causes more frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares, headaches, and decreased quality of sleep in the second half of the night. It's advised to avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime.

Tips to help you go to sleep and stay asleep

De-stress and wind down before bed. Try a warm bath or quietly read a book (old-school paperback, not the electronic version) and have a warm drink of milk. Exercising, playing computer games and watching TV directly before bed is not advised as this can increase physiological arousal and amp you up before bed.

Stress itself can affect sleep – relaxing and unwinding before going to bed can help prevent restless nights spent staring at the ceiling. Before bed, write down a list of your accomplishments/wins for the day, finish your day on a recognition of the positive. Make a list of the action items for the next day (Paper and pen) and review in the morning to train your mind to handle the processing of stressful tasks in an organized way. Don't leave it to chance and a lousy night's sleep.

Set a good sleep routine and stick to it. The body runs on an internal clock that controls sleep and wake. This internal body clock works most effectively if you have a routine. Try to set a consistent sleep and wake time and remember bright morning light is essential to reset your body clock.

Create a pleasant sleep environment – one that is quiet, dark, and cool with comfortable bedding and good temperature control. Look to go natural with your bedding where possible, bedding containing wool, cotton, etc. can make a difference to your senses.

A bit of grogginess is standard.

The first 15 minutes after waking can be difficult for the best of us. That's because your brain is not yet working correctly. This is called sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is the groggy feeling when you first wake up and occurs because some of your brain is still in a sleep state.

Sleep inertia helps us go back to sleep if we've been woken briefly. But if you're woken suddenly, say to an alarm or a telephone ringing, sleep inertia can impact your cognitive ability to respond to the alarm or phone. The magnitude of sleep inertia is affected by prior sleep loss, time of day, and if you wake from deep sleep or not.

So if you're suffering in the morning and finding it hard to wake up, make sure to get a good sleep and allow a bit of time to wake up in the morning gradually.

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