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Precious sleep

When we focus on health, and how to support it, it is important that we consider not only the impacts of our nutrition and movement but also sleep.

Diminished sleep seems to be one of the most underappreciated health and wellness problems in our society. We try to override what has been deeply wired in us for the last 50000 years.

We assume that sleep deprivation isn’t too much of a big deal as we can catch up on it if/when our busy schedule allows us to. However, sleep deprivation studies are telling us otherwise. Moderate sleep deprivation has been shown to impair motor and cognitive performance to the same degree as having a blood alcohol content of 0.1%. This is an issue of significant concern in job sectors where sleep deprivation is common such as the medical profession, the police and the military.

Further research also suggests that prolonged lack of sleep carries an increased risk of developing obesity, heart disease, increased blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and mental diseases.

Also, many inflammatory markers and hormones are affected by our sleep or the lack thereof. Many of them are governed by a diurnal (day-night) cycle, so the impact of sleep is not surprising.

And while power naps and extra sleep at the weekend may reverse the cognitive effects of sleep deficit, they don’t compensate for the long-term health risks associated with a lack of sleep!

Make sleep your priority and your health will thank you for it!

Follow these simple steps:

· Make sure your bedroom is a sanctuary not a workspace

· Try to take a soothing bath before bedtime

· Put your gadgets ‘to sleep’ at least two hours before you got to bed

· Keep your bedroom well-ventilated and cool

· Enjoy a cup of calming tea such a chamomile, lavender or passion flower.

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