Dr Nicola Barclay – Why Sleep Matters:
Walk into a room full of cuddly teddy bears and luxurious pillows and, if you are me, you’ll instantly feel sleepy. It was fortunate that our talk on why sleep matters was full of useful hints and tips. Dr Nicola Barclay, who had been invited along by Tempur to tell us more, certainly knew everything there was to know about sleep.
Starting with the fact that both too much and too little sleep can cause mortality. We need somewhere between 6 and 8 hours sleep a night – and without that, apart from feeling bad, we are more prone to Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity and Coronary Heart disease. Babies and children need more sleep than adults – and by the time you are over 60 the amount of sleep you need drops right down. It’s also important that you sleep at the right time of the day – between
It’s also important that you sleep at the right time of the day – between 11 pm and 7 am is the optimum sleep zone. Apparently, that is controlled partly by an internal biological clock, but partly through something called the Suprachiasmatic nuclei region in hypothalamus of the brain (!)
Sleep helps restore the brain and the body and while we sleep waste toxins are removed from the brain. It also helps with energy conservation and memory consolidation. So, getting a good night’s sleep is vital.
Nicola went on to tell us more about how we could create the perfect sleep environment. Darkness is important because light inhibits melatonin, the hormone which chemically makes us feel sleepy. She suggested that if we had problems sleeping there were certain foods which could help.
Darkness is important because light inhibits melatonin, the hormone which chemically makes us feel sleepy. She suggested that if we had problems sleeping there were certain foods which could help. Walnuts, for example, contain Melatonin.
Keeping cool is important – the perfect sleep temperature is between 20 and 22C. Something like a Tempur mattress helps because it contains temperature sensitive material – and cotton sheets will help too. Lavender Oil can help as can a good supportive mattress. And, keeping a regular bedtime usually makes it easy to nod off.
For those with problems getting to sleep, cognitive techniques do help – Nicola suggested counting backwards from 3654 in 13s, a breathing technique based on breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and breathe out for a count of 8…
And of course, as a last resort, there are various sleeping tablets.
Personally, I find a good pillow and mattress, crisp cotton sheets and a regular bedtime helps most of all. And, I’m very grateful to Tempur for giving me one of the demo pillows to take home with me! It really does make all the difference and supports my head beautifully.