If you’re looking for help to get to sleep when you can’t, you’re not alone.
“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick”…. Muhammad Ali
If you didn’t know he was a masterful boxer, you could be forgiven to think he also suffered from not being able to get to sleep.
In this article, part of our Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we look at
- the neuroprotective benefits of sleep as well as
- outline a simple 2 step process to help you get to sleep when you can’t
Setting Up For Sleep Takes Longer Than You Might Think
There’s a runway in Sao Paulo, Brasil.
In the middle of the city (almost).
18 million people you can appreciate there are high rises everywhere.
The pilot navigates the Boeing jet with its 100s of passengers around the concrete structures and has to “Stick it” on a perilously short runway.
I’ve been told it’s the Boeing passenger plane equivalent of landing a plane on an aircraft carrier.
Yep, margins are tight.
You need to be on it at a certain distance otherwise you can’t bring the plane to a stop.
Sleep is like this.
You need to have a clear runway.
Like the descent, your approach to sleep starts well in advance of jumping into bed.
But how many of us forget this?
Sure, sometimes you miss the sleep window. And you’ll likely know why.
But, if you’ve laid in bed in the middle of the night, wide awake and begging for sleep, you’ll understand just how important a good night’s shut eye really is.
If you’re not jumping out of bed and feeling refreshed upon waking then read on.
The consequence of not sleeping adds up
- Poor sleep resulting in fatigue is like driving over the limit
- Poor sleep quality impacts your memory. “Did I take those tablets already?”
- Poor sleep prevents the “wash and rinse” cycle (glymphatic system) of your brain at night
- Poor sleep impairs your immune function
- Poor sleep corrodes your mood and resilience
- Poor sleep may drive our need for stimulants and other drugs “ I need that caffeine..”
Yes Sleep Matters For Your Cognitive Fitness
Long-term, poor quality sleep has been linked to multiple health issues;
- depression, dementia, weight gain, diabetes, thyroid function and memory wellness and it is critically impacts your ability to live a full life when living with a neurodegenerative condition
So How Can You Get a Good Night’s Sleep?
- Poor Sleep Due To What?: An investigative process is needed to identify your sleep disrupting culprits. What are the causes or contributing factors.Some of the common factors we see are:
- Sleep apnoea
- Trauma to the brain
- Worry Mind – ruminating cyclic thoughts
- Stress- physical mental or cognitive
- Hormone disruption
- Poor lifestyle habits
- Devices in the bedroom
- Ill fitting pillows or mattresses
- After determining the “Who Dunnit of Robbing Your Sleep” helps reveal where the action is needed. Some are easier to resolve than others but to help you get started here are some quick tips
- Set up a routine for sleep – build your runway. Part of this is calming the mind through light movement, mental exercise or your personal spiritual practices
- Be mindful of your last meal- allow at least 2 hours between your last meal and going to bed.
- STOP Caffeine: limit it to before midday only
- Lighting can play a crucial role. Dim the lights an hour before going to bed
You’d appreciate that these tips will need to be adapted to your personal situation.
When working to tackle our client’s sleep problems we’ll go through a 16 point checklist to help build a personal sleep action plan (Yes, you guessed it, a sleep runway)
Need Help With Getting Breakthrough On Your Sleep Habits and Routines?
At Occupational Therapy Brisbane we take a special interest in all lifestyle factors, including how well you sleep and how it can affect your brain health.
It’s part of our comprehensive approach to neurological rehabilitation and supports our mission to help people achieve cognitive fitness for life.
If you’d like to see if we can help with your situation please do not hesitate to contact us. Simply call us at 1300 783 200 or fill in the form below.
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