Sleep is the body’s best ally in combating various stress factors – such as anxiety, disease and injury. When the body’s natural sleep cycle is interrupted for any reason, the effects of sleep deprivation can range from mild to deadly. There are easy steps to take to get the sleep rhythm back into alignment, and these steps can be integrated into anyone’s life: avoiding refined foods and processed foods; reducing stress and stimulation; getting a good night’s sleep; and a sleep environment conducive to relaxed and uninterrupted sleep.
For many reasons, our sleep cycles fall out of rhythm. The sleep routine becomes interrupted, whether due to illness, trauma, injury or just being worn thin. A vicious cycle commences. Being out of sorts causes sleeping issues, then sleep deprivation – causing illness and strife. It is possible to correct this disruption and start the cycle again.
The easiest choice to make right off is to avoid refined and processed foods. These foods should be avoided at the best of times, but especially 12 hours before whatever the set wakeup time might be. These food products can be difficult to digest and may keep the body's metabolism churning all night. This release of chemicals to break down the foodstuff can interfere with the body's natural release of sleep hormones.
Refraining from eating is an easy first step, and reducing stress is the next. Stress is a daily occurrence and not easy to avoid. The best ways to mitigate stress or at least lessen stress include yoga stretches, deep breathing, prayer and meditation. Whichever activity best suits should be done an hour up to right before bed. Ending all stimulation – television, the computer, video games – an hour before bed at least will reduce stress and agitation as well.
On average, we need approximately seven to eight hours of sleep a day. Sleeping in may seem like a wonderful idea, but in reality, it is a detriment to the sleep cycle. As well, napping in the afternoon, often thought of as restorative, can also cause sleeping issues. When in a poor sleep pattern, it is better to stay up and sleep at a regular time rather than attempt to get caught up on lost sleep.
Besides preparing for sleep both physically and mentally, it is just as important to prepare the sleeping area/bedroom. It is always best to attempt to sleep without any distraction, whether that is light distraction or noise distraction. Dark blinds or shades are useful in keeping the ambient light levels in the room at a minimum. If blinds or shades are not a possibility, an eye mask is another possibility. Noise should be reduced as well – whether from a television or a clock.
Whether due to illness or stress, a disrupted sleep cycle is not something to be taken lightly as it could be the difference between feeling at optimum and feeling worse. By making a few simple changes, it is possible to restart the body's normal sleep cycle of healing and recovery.