Sleep has a powerful influence on your mental and physical health
Why is sleep important?
We call sleep the ‘force multiplier’ because of the powerful influence it has on our health, fitness and wellbeing. If you don’t can’t sleep or have sleep problems, it’s very difficult to thrive or make changes to your lifestyle. You simply won’t have the energy or the head space.
Sleep is governed by our circadian rhythm, which is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, contained within the hypothalamus. A healthy circadian rhythm is influenced by natural light, but also by hormones including serotonin, melatonin and cortisol. If we have good sleep hygiene and avoid disrupting the hormones responsible for sleep, then all is well. Typically, though, there are many elements of modern life that cause problems for our sleep.
Ready to talk?
Find out more about Sleep
Do you struggle with sleep?
Many of us suffer from sleep disorders. These can include waking up too early; sleep insomnia; waking often and being unable to get back to sleep; difficulty falling sleep; waking frequently in the night; waking up to use the toilet; or getting plenty of sleep in terms of hours but still waking up feeling groggy and exhausted.
The upshot is, you feel tired and irritable, lack the energy you need to get on with life, and you’re worried about how this is affecting your mental and physical health – sleep anxiety. A lack of sleep severely affects our ability to cope with the rigours of daily life.
How to optimise your sleep
What you eat will have a profound impact on the quality of your sleep. Eating a diet that is personal to you is so important, not just for sleep but for mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness. All of which are affected by your sleep. Eating a diet based on your unique DNA will enable you to optimise your health, fitness and wellbeing – and help you sleep better.
One is red cell magnesium, which can cause sleep disturbances if low, and the other is thyroid – hypothyroidism has been linked to sleep disorders and fatigue. We can quickly address these issues by testing to see if levels are low or eliminate them from the possible causes of poor sleep.
Understanding how you sleep is important for benchmarking, but having a device that monitors your sleep and correlates this against your activity data means you can measure the effectiveness of your lifestyle changes and see how you’re improving. We use a device called the Oura ring for sleep monitoring and recovery tracking.
Our circadian rhythms are kick-started by natural light, but many of us are waking up and beginning our day in darkness. You might spend most of your day indoors sitting under harsh, bright light, rarely getting outside. This all negatively impacts your ability to sleep well and deeply.
The final thing is blue light which despite its name isn’t a colour, but a frequency of light emitted by televisions, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices. Blue light suppresses melatonin, which is the hormone that prepares us for sleep, yet many of us are sitting in front of screens all day and late into the evening. Many scientific studies have demonstrated the harmful effects blue light has on our ability to sleep.