What factors contribute to a good night's sleep ?

May 11, 2015


Getting a great night’s sleep is something I am super passionate about! 


It leaves you feeling fresh, awake and ready to get out there and do what you do best.


To embrace each opportunity that the new day brings.  The better you sleep, the more you connect with the people you meet and your inner light and positive energy shines brightly.


By resting effectively, your immune system gets stronger, the mind functions with a higher level of clarity and you feel emotionally balanced. 


A great sleep can transform how you feel – physically, mentally and spiritually – so I am a big believer in setting up the right environment in which to sleep in!


Yes, it’s important to get 8 - 10 hours of sleep per night but there are other factors involved that are just as important in shaping your perfect night’s sleep and today I am going to explore the main factors that affect your sleep quality. . .


Factor 1 : Melatonin Levels


Melatonin is the hormone your body uses to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.  It is controlled by light exposure and your brain should secrete more during the evening hours, as the light lessens, to make you sleepy.  The body is meant to produce less during the day when it’s light outside and you want to stay awake and alert.


However, many aspects of modern life can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin thus affecting your sleep-wake cycle. 


Staring into the bright light of the TV, your iPhone or your computer screen can suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to fall asleep when you do finally peel yourself away from your devices at night.


Tip:  Turn off all bright overhead lights and turn down the light on your laptop and iphone as you wind down for bedtime.  Instead, use subtle lamp light and candle light to aid relaxation and boost melatonin production.


For even better results, change up your TV and laptop for a book or a Kindle and spend the hour before bed reading.  When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is in complete darkness when all lights are turned off as any light shining through your curtains will affect how deeply you sleep.



Factor 2 : The quality of your sleeping environment


A great sleeping environment is an important investment in your quality of life.  The room should be well aired and not too warm, the duvet and covers breathable, and the mattress new, supportive and of the best quality.


The life span of a mattress is 8 - 10 years and so if it’s time to invest in a new mattress, I highly recommend doing it!  I have just changed mine and it has made the world of difference.


Tip:  Try out many different types and see what suits you, make sure it's not too warming as the body should be cool when sleeping to sleep better.




Factor 3 : Your adrenal health


The adrenal glands play a huge part in sleep quality!


The adrenals are small glands that sit just above the kidneys and are divided into two hormone-producing regions. The inner part of our adrenals (the medulla) produces epinephrine and norephinephrine, or adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormones, in response to stress or a perceived threat.  The outer cortex produces the hormone cortisol in a more gradual and consistent way, but also in response to stress, especially chronic stress.


When the adrenals are imbalanced, you often end up feeling wide awake at midnight onwards and very sleepy and sluggish upon waking up.  Annoyingly, it's the opposite to the way you should feel.


Cortisol plays a key role in our physical, mental, and emotional strength and well-being.  Healthy levels of cortisol hormone are secreted in a 24-hour (circadian) rhythm, where it is highest in the morning, falling to mid-range through the afternoon, and quite low during the night.  The adrenal glands start the next day's cycle just before dawn.  The body’s natural rhythm can be affected with erratic and changeable bed times and waking times.


Tip:  Set a regular bedtime and try to wake up at the same time each day. 


If you have Adrenal Fatigue and are in healing mode then make sure that you are in bed by 10pm and where possible try to sleep in until 9am during the periods of time that you are off work.  During the hours before midnight and between 7.30am-9am are the times that the adrenals recover.



Factor 4 : Your stress levels


If you in a particularly stressful period of your life, the mind can be rather active upon getting into bed and this is the biggest complaint from my clients and something that prevents them from falling to sleep easily.


Through the more restorative practices of Yoga, especially Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, a shift takes place in the nervous system and counteracts the effects of stress.


The speed of your thoughts slow down as you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” response, and move away from the “fight, flight or freeze” response of the sympathetic nervous system.


Tip:  Practicing The Yoga Sleep Method in bed at night is a great way to silence the mind and bring the awareness back into the body after a particularly stimulating day.


Click here to download your free relaxation from The Yoga Sleep Method.

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