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Sleep

Importance of healthy sleep: 

  • Recover better from daily physical and emotional challenges 

  • Let you live longer 

  • Improves your memory 

  • Makes you more creative 

  • Reduces your need for unhealthy food 

  • Protection against infections 

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes 

  • Ensures lower blood pressure 

  • Improves your mood 

  • ensures increased (sports) performance

  • Increase your willpower

 “There is a lot that sleep can do that we in medicine cannot currently do."(Matthew Walker)

This is what a healthy sleep pattern looks like: 

Resilience

One wave of sleep lasts about an hour and a half. An ideal sleep has 5-6 of these waves. It is normal to wake up briefly at the end of a wave. Many people don't even notice and fall right back to sleep. However, if there is something at the top of the wave, for example a snoring partner, noise outside, a full bladder, pain or worries, then you are really consciously awake for a moment. 

Over the last 50 years, people have been sleeping 1.5 hours less. This has become even less recently because many people often use  smartphones 

 

The first two waves of sleep contain the most deep sleep. Your body recovers the most in that part of sleep. Even if you only sleep three hours, you will still have approximately 80% of your physical recovery. Especially if the first two waves take place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. That is the period of 'super sleep'. Going to sleep early is therefore very useful for people with physical complaints.  

 

Deep sleep also ensures a less hypersensitive nervous system, something that often plays a role in chronic pain. During deep sleep the body also produces growth hormone, which plays a role in muscle strengthening, among other things. It is not training that creates a strong body, but rather the combination of training + sleep.  

 

At the end of sleep there is relatively more light sleep. In that phase we process the emotions of the past day. That is why it is so good for teenagers, for example, to be able to sleep in. We also have the most creative thoughts during the dozing period around waking up. It is the phase in which problems can be solved. 

 

What makes you fall asleep? 

The need to fall asleep is determined by two factors: 

  1. Activity on the day 

If you have been physically active during the day, you produce certain substances. If you have done this enough, you will get tired and fall asleep more easily. Caffeine, for example, can block this. On the other hand, if you haven't done much, there is little reason to fall asleep. 

Nowadays we exercise on average 70% less than our grandparents, so it is not surprising that so many people have difficulty falling asleep. 

   2. Day and night rithm

Your day and night rhythm (also known as biorhythm) is determined by light and darkness. When it gets dark, melatonin is released in your body, a hormone that makes you sleepy. When it gets light again, the release of melatonin stops and you wake up again.  

With the invention of artificial light, but certainly also with computers, tablets and telephones, it is a lot more difficult to have a natural sleep rhythm.  The artificial light, but also the blue light from computers, tablets and telephones, causes the brain to think that it is still daytime. As a result, they do not produce melatonin. 

If you fall asleep without your body releasing melatonin, you will recover much less well at night. But it will also be more difficult for you to fall asleep again if you wake up during the night. In addition to being a 'sleep aid', melatonin is also one of the body's most important anti-inflammatory agents.

Biorhythm

What can you do for a good day and night rhythm?

  • Try to catch as much light as possible early in the morning and around noon. Light in the office is 50-500 lux (lux=unit for light), sunlight is at least 8000 lux. The biorhythm only responds at 1000 lux, so go outside regularly.  

  • Make sure you get enough exercise during the day. Preferably exercise before 6 p.m. and relax after dinner to 'let the day out'. 

 

In fact it is simple. Our body is still geared to life in prehistoric times (without electronics and more regulated by nature) with getting up when it gets light, lots of physical activities outside during the day, little stress and descending peace when it gets dark. The challenge is to get back to that rhythm. 

Practical tips and links:

  • Complete this questionnaire and see whether your behavior is more sleep-promoting or sleep-inhibiting. Behavior can be changed, so that opens up possibilities!

  • Have a massage for a relaxed body and mind                                                   

  • Set aside fifteen minutes two to three times a day to 'doze'. You lie down for a long time. Let your breathing calm down, feel and follow the warmth of your body until you feel wonderfully warm and quiet.  

  • If you feel like you are getting very little sleep, you can try using a sleep app (e.g. sleepcycle). This records how many hours you actually sleep. This often turns out to be much more than you would estimate. 

  • Trade one hour of television/computer for one hour of sleep: that alone can help you lose 7 kg in a year.

  • Sleep exercise[click here]

  • If you really can't sleep, turn it around. Try your best to stay awake. You might just fall asleep at that time. 

  • Consider how you sleep if you are outside all day and preferably also do physical (heavy) work.

  • Replace sleep-inhibiting thoughts with more accepting thoughts:

    • Replace “I can't stand this” with “It's okay to be awake; it will pass. I've survived before' 

    • Replace 'I have to do something to sleep' with: 'My body will take care of me, I'll let it go' 

    • Replace 'I won't be able to function tomorrow' with: 'It may be difficult, but I can work well even when I'm tired' 

    • 'This is terrible; I'm going to take a pill' replaced by: 'I can wake up peacefully at night' 

    • Replace “It seems like I will never feel like myself again” with: “This tiredness will go away; I made this fatalistic prediction because I am very upset right now' 

  • For more tips, visit Thuisarts.nl[click here] 

  • Fragrances to sleep better [click here]

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