Poor sleep isn’t just annoying because it’s boring lying in bed looking up at the ceiling all night, it can also make us far more susceptible to poor health, such as catching colds.
A group of boffins from various hospitals and universities, all PhDs, carried out a study of people’s sleeping habits and their chances of developing a common cold. They basically injected rhino-virus up the hooters of 153 volunteers and then monitored their sleeping habits to see who caught a cold…surprise surprise, the results were conclusive.
Poor sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks proceeding exposure to rhino-virus were associated with low resistance to illness.
In other words, if we don’t get a full quota of uninterrupted sleep, the chances of becoming ill increases significantly. Not rocket science and does make perfect sense, because it’s when we sleep that many of our systems are reset and essential repair work takes place.
It’s not easy when the new born baby is screaming the roof off or the neighbours are having another late night swinging party, but we can significantly increase the chances of better sleep by doing the following six things in evening mid-week:
Avoid coffee (or any caffeine), alcohol, tobacco in the evening (obviously)! These all stimulate the adrenal gland and increase the heart rate. Try fresh mint tea instead, it’s delicious (fancy restaurants charge a fortune for it). Buy some fresh leaves, or better still grow some yourself – it’s not difficult, and add to a tall glass with hot water. The water turns green from the nutrients oozing out so it also helps to cleanse the liver, kidneys and colon too – bonus!
Stop working! There needs to be a cut off point from working (and that includes checking emails), otherwise the brain takes all this information to bed with it, disturbing sleep later on. Far better to spend 10 minutes reviewing the day by writing down any major achievements, great moments and lessons; then move anything missed to the next day, rescheduling it, delegating or just deleting it. This helps the brain organise and forget about it – check out ‘How To Handle Information Overload‘.
Eliminate these at least 2 hours before bed! TV (especially the news), loud music, Facebook, Twitter, Crackberry etc – all keep the brain from switching off at night. Try putting on some ambient or classical music whilst you do the next three activities.
Shower, change, clean teeth! A shower in the evening is a great way to send a signal to the brain that it’s time to start winding down and go to sleep (this also increases the chances of doing the very last thing on this list:)
Write up a diary and/or read non-fiction for 20-30 minutes! Jotting down a few thoughts about the day helps to switch off even more, and reading non-fiction helps induce sleep – even if it’s a page-turner. Try the Flashman Papers, by George MacDonald Fraser – fantastic.
Make love! (if you can) The most natural sleeping tonic in the world:)