Do you want deep refreshing sleep and a long and deeply healthy life?
Well it seems pretty clear that the two are intertwined. And that for many of us, in fact I would say most of us, refreshing sleep never happens and it has a knock-on effect to so many parts of our lives, including our health and happiness.
So what do you need to do to correct this? Well there are lots of things. Some are done easily and others may involve some hard to achieve changes in our lives.
What follows talks about these things in a practical way, identifying them in point form, so you get a clear idea of what you can do without having to read a long thesis.
Sleep is so important to our health and happiness, but for some reason we don’t seem to give it much thought and we don’t know much about it.
I’m going to start with the simple idea that things that affect your sleep patterns and health are interconnected. And that very often a sleep problem is a red flag for other things in your life being not quite right or out of balance. And these could have long term consequences for your wellbeing and longevity.
Most of the elements listed below will not come as a surprise to you, but perhaps others will. They are some of the major influencers in sleep quality and health and they include:
- sleep hygiene (also called sleep habits and routines – like what you do before you go to bed and when (what time) you normally go to bed).
- Your diet and being overweight. This has side affects for sleep that may come as a surprise to you (like sleep disordered breathing or not breathing properly while you sleep as a consequence of being overweight – and possibly including obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring). What we eat has a strong bearing on our health and is crucial to wellbeing. Firstly in terms of providing the body with the tools it needs to repair itself, particularly vitamins and minerals (especially from vegetables). As well as cardiovascular disease – one of the biggest killers. And more simple considerations like food allergies and feeling too full or having indigestion before going to bed, making it difficult to sleep.
- Exercise, you heard it a hundred times, maybe a thousand times, some regular exercise is good for you. It not only helps your health, it can give you better quality sleep. But of course the catch is, if you are tired from not getting good sleep, then it will be difficult to get off the sofa and get moving.
- Anxiety and stress can make it difficult to sleep and can be made worse by being tired as a result of not sleeping properly. The benefits of Mindfulness and being calm for at least part of the day can help with this. And of course you will be better at dealing with your problems if you are not feeling tired or helpless or depressed – and this could well lower your stress and anxiety levels.
- Good quality sleep can have a positive effect on our mental health; especially depression. As well as simply making one feel better able to cope with the things life throws at us.
- Alcohol, drugs, stimulants and smoking.
- Noise – snoring, traffic, noisy neighbours, and barking dogs driving you crazy in the middle of the night.
- SAD from not enough light in winter.
- Too much blue light from devices.
- And then a plethora of other smaller things which perhaps on the their own have little impact, but together contribute to you being out of balance. For example, the cleaning chemicals you use and store in your house and workplace, as well as those in your furniture and carpets. Your dental health – the state of your teeth – is also cited as a potential cause of broader health issues stemming from putting extra strain on the body in terms of infection and some sources mention mercury poisoning from old fillings.
- A lack of a sense of belonging, purpose or meaning in your life. For many people these things come from a partner, children, family, or being part of a community. Or perhaps a job they enjoy, an academic pursuit, a hobby, or doing things for other people or animals.
All these things interact with each other and form the bigger picture. There is probably no one thing that will magically transform your sleep quality and make you live a full and good life to 100 + years of age; but together these things may well do.
I come from a background of having helped tens of thousands of people with sleep problems through three of my designs and inventions. But I also have a strong interest in deep sleep at a personal level as I don’t breathe properly when I sleep. And this has forced me to focus on what works to help me wake in the morning feeling refreshed.
And secondly, I lost my 38 year old wife to cancer when our children were very young. Had the cancer been diagnosed earlier, she would probably still be alive. I have spent a long time learning and thinking about what factors may contribute to the onset of cancer, and other diseases, and what practical common-sense things we can do in our lives to mitigate them. And, of course, the advantages of early diagnosis.
It’s also worth thinking about the advances being made in medicine; especially in health monitoring and early diagnosis. For me this is very exciting as I believe it will save many people from a great deal of suffering.
I hope you find this summary of sleep and health useful.