There are millions of people who are sleep-deprived..
which may be good news for the pharmaceutical companies but not for the body, mind and soul.
Your body repairs itself and processes the day's experiences during sleep.
In previous generations people had 8-9 hours sleep, whereas nowadays many people report only having 5-7 hours of sleep.
The quality of your sleep is vital.
Brief naps can help you to recharge your batteries in the mid- afternoon, but at night time we should be following our body clock (circadian rhythms) and allowing the Melatonin we produce - from our stocks of Serotonin - to guide us into the Delta brainwave frequency necessary for sleep.
We all have different cycles within our overall sleep cycle every night - the main ones being Rapid Eye Movement sleep - when we dream and our body should be inert to avoid us acting out our dreams - and the deeper restorative sleep we need to rebalance our complex body chemistry.
Stress and lack of sleep play havoc with our bodies - resulting in less Myelin laid down on nerve cells, which mean that we cannot think properly and are likely to have neurological problems too.
(Dr Daniel Amen) Extreme sleep deprivation leads to psychosis - which is why it has been used a method of torture! According to Professor Colin Espie of the University of Glasgow, Scotland; who has studied the sleep patterns of 12,000 adults; 51% of adults struggle to get to sleep and remain asleep; 75% of these were women and 25% men.
As a result of a lack of good sleep 55% reported relationship problems; 77% were affected by lack of ability to concentrate; 64% said that they were less productive at work; 83% had mood problems and 93% lacked energy.
Moderate and long-term sleep deprivation leads to increased Cortisol levels (implicated in depression and death of brain cells in the memory and mood centres of the brain called the Hippocampus); increased insulin levels; weight gain; increases in the hormone Grehlin which increases hunger and also lowers your appetite suppressing hormones known as PYY.
You will eat more to compensate for the lack of sleep and you will crave more sugars, refined carbohydrates and stimulants as a result.
Sleep deprivation also leads to depression, attention-deficit-disorder, problems with learning and memory; as well as being a contributing factor to more severe health conditions (Dr Mark Hyman).
Getting enough sleep can mean the difference between a sick, tired foggy and unfocused life; and one in which you are healthy, alert, effective and productive.
Stress, worry, fear and anxiety can create a vicious circle when we are trying to go to sleep.
We can be plagued by the mind-chatter or head-heckling that prevents us from shifting-gear down to Theta brainwave activity and then the Delta brainwave state associated with sleep.
WE CANNOT THINK AND SLEEP AT THE SAME TIME - but switching off the 'thinking' takes focused effort.
General 'advice' from magazines tells us to do what for many is obvious - such as not having caffeine drinks before bed-time, staying cool, being in a darkened room in a comfortable bed and without electronic gadgets close to us; having scented candles, and a warm bath with essential oils such as lavender.
These will all help, but they still don't address the real issue for many people.
What they fail to tell us is that unless your brainwaves are slowed down to a Delta wave frequency - which is between 1-4 cycles per second - you will not be able to sleep.
The 'thinking/worrying/planning' state of mind is associated with Beta brainwave frequencies which are much faster at between 13-30 cycles per second.
Extreme exhaustion may be necessary for some people to finally be able to stop responding to the barrage of thoughts, images and ideas generated by an area of the brain called the Reticular Activating System.
This is repeatedly bringing random and trivial thoughts to our awareness; and we then pick up on these and go off on a 'what-if' or 'will I be good enough' etc.
mental dialogue - until we learn how to observe this process and put a stop to it.
We can then allow ourselves to slip down into the calmer slower 'zone' necessary for sleep.
Brainwave entrainment has been shown to greatly improve sleep as well as dealing with the troublesome anxieties and fears that keep our mind churning instead of allowing it to slow down.
There are specific ways to get our body/mind into a sleep state - but they do require practice - sometimes several times before you will get into the Delta brainwave state.
I have created a simple method for this.
I call it a 'BEER for bedtime'! BEER is an acronym for the 4 stages required, and, in simple abridged terms, relates to slowing down the Breath, lowering the Eyes (which will keep rising as you begin 'thinking' again so you will need to persevere); Emptying the mind and Relaxing the body..
all of which prepare your body for sleep.
Taking nutritional supplements such as GABA and Melatonin (available via the internet as they are not on general sale in UK) as well as 5HTP - which is a precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin - will all help; and Magnesium is known to be beneficial in calming the body particularly if we are fidgety and restless.
None of these have the 'side effects' associated with pharmaceutical drugs such as zopiclone, zalepon and zolpidem - whose side effects include loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness and drowsiness, headache, diarrhoea, and hallucinations.
Withdrawal from these prescribed drugs can actually bring about insomnia, anxiety, tremor, loss of appetite, perspiration and tinnitus! These drugs are also potentially addictive! IT'S A NO BRAINER..
SLEEP WELL, LIVE WELL!